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Gnat Creek Falls

October 25th
3 miles*** 5 hikers ***

Beautiful day; clear & warm *** 3 dogs ***

There was some confusion as to where exactly this waterfall is located. There is a Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery off Hwy. 30 west of the Longview Bridge, but I found Gnat Creek Falls on my map 5 miles south of there down a gravel road. Even the people who work at the Fish Hatchery had it confused with a smaller, closer falls known as Barrier Falls.

We parked at the Hatchery and hiked south a half mile to little Barrier Falls. When we got back to the Hatchery, I asked directions to Gnat Creek Falls and was first pointed in the direction we had just come from. I knew that wasnít right,

so I asked again and was told to drive west, then south down a dirt road. That didnít sound right, but we tried it. About a mile down this road, I thought this canít be right, so we went back to the highway, past the hatchery to the east. Fortunately, Ron had put it on his GPS before we left, so we knew where to turn.

About 3.5 miles down this road, we came to a gate where we parked and started walking. We walked about Ĺ mile on gravel road through clearcut to a brushy trail which we walked about ľ mile down to the brink of the falls climbing over fallen trees along the way. We were both pleasantly surprised and disappointed at the same time. Whenever one goes off the beaten path to find some remote

waterfall like this, you never know what youíll find. Will it be worth the effort? Will it turn out to be a little riffle which some optimistic cartographer decided to label and put on the map? Well, we decided this waterfall was about 100í drop. Very impressive except for one thing Ė our trail had brought us to the brink of the falls which meant we could only look down from the edge. In fact it felt a little too precarious for us to be there with our dogs.

We had lunch here while Ron tried exploring in search of a way to cross. There was another little waterfall upstream, but unfortunately, the loggers left a lot of downed trees which blocked our path and the stream in many places. I was anxious to get the pups away from the edge, so we left to go in search of another trail.

We drove back to the highway and went west to a rather new trail which leads back to the hatchery. We hiked along the creek in search of a geocache which we found easily. When we got back to the cars, we searched diligently for another geocache which was not so easily found. Eventually Seth was successful in finding it, then we headed for home, but we decided to go south through Vernonia so we could look for another waterfall on Hwy. 26.

We stopped at the store in Vernonia, to grab some food, then went to the park to eat. What a nice surprise to see Ruth there with her friend!

They had been biking the paved trail and just got back to their car which was parked where we stopped to eat, so we all had dinner together at the picnic table.

We then went our separate ways. When we got to Hwy. 26, we turned west in search of Wolf Creek Falls near the 4-County point. We didnít find it then, but Ron went back later and found at least 2 waterfalls in the area.

We plan to come back someday in search of a better view of Gnat Creek Falls.

Previous Trip reports....

  • March 15th:
    Lost Lake..........

    August 16th, 2008
    About 8 moderate miles
    6 people

    Nice day; clear & warm
    After changing a few trips this year due to snowpack, this one was relocated because of forest fire. All the trails on the east side of Mt. Hood were closed this summer due to the Gnarl Ridge fire on that side. For a map of the extent of the fire, check out this website: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/1465/

    I did a last-minute scramble to come up with an alternative in the Mt. Hood area. We had a request for "some place shady with water", so I thought Lost Lake would fit the bill. The road up is so long and winding, we had to stop a time or two, so people wouldnít get car sick. Once we finally got there, we were told to turn left away from the store to find a parking spot. We didnít have a map of the campground, so I wasnít exactly sure where we were when we parked, but I figured weíd find the lake eventually.

    We hiked up a road, turned through someoneís campsite, and down a steep hill to connect with the lake trail. We turned left and walked along several boardwalks, passing several places where the lake could be accessed. Every single one of them was full of people. When we got to the south end of the lake, we turned left to start up the Huckleberry Mt. Trail.

    It was good to leave the crowds behind as we headed up the hill. After a couple of switchbacks, we were able to look back down on the lake which had a few boats on it. Lost Lake Butte loomed high across the lake. As we approached the ridge, we could see the Gnarl Ridge fire to the north of Mt. Hood. The fire was hot enough to give the smoke a red glow thousands of feet in the air. Our destination was the Pacific Crest Trail where

    Dave fixed the sign with his trusty multipliers. On the way down, as we stopped to watch the fire a little more, we said a prayer for the safety of the firefighters.

    Back at the lake, Dave & I crowded in amongst the other people and managed a short swim. At the north end, we found more boardwalks among

    the feeder creeks and wetlands where Seth found a geocache near a bench.

    Another short swim for me as the others explored the store. After 25 years of guiding, it finally happened; I got the group lost. Where? At Lost of course. After leaving the store, we walked back on the boardwalk a ways, then turned up the right trail through the right campsite, but we took a wrong turn at the top of the hill. This is where I was wishing I had a map of the actual campground which the guide books and forest service maps donít have. As I said earlier, I didnít exactly know where we were in the parking lot in relation to the store and by now I was too tired to think correctly, but after wandering in the wrong direction awhile, we turned around and went back to the car.

    We stopped for a hot meal at Zig Zag Inn on the way home.

    Iíve since found a map online so Iíll know where we are next time.

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