Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls

One of the lesser known waterfalls is also one of the most spectacular and accessible.

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hours of fun

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A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls
A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls
A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls
A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls
A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls

We found ourselves at Elowah Falls by accident, heading East from Exit 35 instead of West to Horsetail Falls. I’m glad we did. Two different waterfalls are accessible from the same trailhead, and they share a path for the first half a mile. At the junction, turn left for Elowah Falls, right to Upper McCord Creek Falls. The higher elevation trail to the latter ends up cutting into a cliff-face, with the sheer drop guarded by rails. This affords a good view of the top of Elowah Falls, just before the Upper McCord Creek Falls hove into view.

Pros

  • Elowah falls are magnificent. A real torrent of water splashing down, so much so that you will get soaked crossing the nearby bridge in the springtime.
  • The distances are child friendly; 1.4 miles round trip to Elowah Falls. You can double that if you decide to take in Upper McCord Creek Falls too.

Cons

  • The trail signage is confusing. Fortunately someone has carved more useful directions alongside the official ones.
  • I wouldn’t personally take under fours on the trail to the upper falls; it’s not especially treacherous, but the vertiginous drop to the side of the path suggests caution.

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First posted: May 9, 2012; last updated: July 8, 2013.

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If you find any factual innaccuracies in this post, please email me via richard at thingstodoinportland dot org so I can fix it for everyone. Thanks in advance!

A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls
A photograph taken at Elowah / Upper McCord Creek Falls

John B Yeon Trailhead. From Portland take I-84 eastward to Exit 35. Drive east on Frontage Road about 2 miles and turn right into the trailhead parking lot. [Google map].

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