The Northwest's Best Hidden Waterfalls

Cool off with a sojourn to one of these five falling favorites.

By Adam Sawyer August 1, 2014 Published in the August 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

←Latourell Falls: The 2.4-mile loop hike to Latourell and its upper falls is one of the more family-friendly jaunts in the gorge. Still, dropping over honeycomb-like columnar basalt, the 249-foot falls are as imposing as they are beautiful. 30 minutes from PDX

Wahclella Falls: Though Wahclella Falls receives relatively few visitors, the trek in to the 60-footer rates as high as any in terms of beauty: the 2-mile out-and-back visits the falls in a peaceful grotto at the end of a deep canyon. 40 minutes from PDX

Pup Creek Falls: Paralleling the Clackamas River, this trail passes through the remains of a 2003 forest fire before an old-growth forest engulfs it. For a 7.5-mile out-and-back hike, make Pup Creek Falls your turnaround point. The three-tiered, 237-foot cascade is festooned with rich, green mosses and bright, yellow and burnt-orange lichens. 1 hour from PDX

Panther Creek Falls: Born from a giant natural spring that tumbles about 100 feet down a massive basalt wall, these drive-up falls comprise intertwining ribbons of moss and water. A pristine creek rushing toward the spring splinters off just prior, creating a delicate, veil-like cascade, as the water careens into the 70-foot basalt palisade. 90 minutes from PDX 

Slide Falls (Opal Creek Wilderness): The Opal Creek Wilderness is home to the largest intact stand of old-growth forest in the western Cascades, with trees up to 1,000 years old. That’s great, but on a hot summer day the forest takes a backseat to Slide Falls. A 5.6-mile out-and-back hike leads you to the almost-too-good-to-be true natural waterslide that delivers the brave into a bracing splash pool. 2 hours from PDX

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