Trail of the Month

Tamanawas Falls

Activity: Waterfall viewing | Distance: 3.8 miles, round trip | Rating: Moderate

By Brian Barker April 27, 2012 Published in the May 2012 issue of Portland Monthly

WHY IT’S GREAT: Many waterfall outings make you wait for visual payoff. Not Tamanawas. This Mt Hood National Forest trail traces the rushing East Fork Hood River and the silt-tinted Cold Spring Creek. It weaves around chunky, glacially deposited boulders, shaded valleys, old-growth ponderosa pines, and high ridges surveying rippled canyon walls. The roughly mile-long portion bordering Cold Spring is especially pleasant on sunny days, when rays filter through a sponge of budding cottonwood and larch trees. Two rustic log footbridges provide photogenic backdrops along the way. Consider this all a warm-up to the falls themselves. At 125 feet tall and wedged into a shear, dark-basaltic half-dome, Tamanawas rains down like a permanent thunderhead. Actual standing space is limited near the falls, so consider soaking up mist waves a few steps back, where hikers can perch in a sun-warmed boulder field.

THINK TWICE: Some guidebooks suggest scrambling up a faint, crumbling trail leading up to—and behind—the spewing falls to visit a not-so-secret cave. Doing so looks like a foolhardy undertaking, at best.

POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE: Sixth Street Bistro May isn’t quite patio season in Portland, but in sun-hogging Hood River it’s another story. Soak up your fair share out on Sixth Street’s sweet outdoor space, while noshing on what may be the Gorge’s juiciest cheeseburger and quaffing brews from nearby Everybody’s Brewing, Walking Man, and Double Mountain. 509 Cascade Ave, Hood River; 541-386-5737;

TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: From Portland, follow I-84 east to Hood River. Take exit 64 for Highway 35 and head south. Drive 24 miles and look for the trailhead on your right, just before the Polallie Creek Campground. Northwest Forest Pass required.

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