Romance of Waterfalls
The time is right to travel down treasured trails in Oregon State Parks to discover the romance of waterfalls. While the Columbia River Gorge has long impressed us with its gigantic size, I cherish its nooks and crannies even more – especially where the water flows and famous falls whirl and shimmer and ripple and where you can leave all distractions behind.
At 125 feet, Shepperd’s Dell is small in size as Gorge falls go. It rolls out of Young’s Creek to become a foamy moment that resembles a bowtie turned on its side. The water boils and roils, then slips and slides down forty feet of smooth rock face before it twists and shoots up high to celebrate its freedom and falls into a rocky cradle. George Shepperd opened Shepperd’s Dell to the public in 1915 as a tribute to his wife. What a romantic!
One mile east of Shepperd’s Dell is Bridal Veil Falls State Park, a day-use site for a picnic or a stroll down a half-mile trail to a stairway and viewing platform. The park’s namesake drops in two tiers and it is best enjoyed with someone special. You’ll see why when you stand on the viewing platform and gaze up at the 160-foot waterfall plunging twice in a wide, steep slide.
If time is of the essence and you’re ready to head back toward Portland, travel west on the scenic highway past Shepperd’s Dell Falls a mile and a half to Latourell Falls, where an incredible show speaks for itself. Latourell Falls hisses and bellows and shouts for attention as it falls 249 feet. It’s the second-highest falls in the Gorge and seems to take on a life of its own you can’t help but appreciate. The falls was named for Joseph Latourell, an early settler of the area, and donated to the state of Oregon in 1929 by Guy W. Talbot. A paved trail allows you to hike to the base of this falls and continues across a bridge to a picnic area.
Ninety miles to the west, photographer Don Best likes to say he hasn’t met a waterfall he doesn’t love: “to shoot with a camera.”Best is a lifelong local in Tillamook County – his grandfather arrived by horse and wagon and his father told tales of old growth timber, giant elk and waterfalls galore.
So, Best looks up at Munson Falls (the tallest waterfall in the Oregon Coast Range), with a nostalgic nod to a somewhat romanticized past and offered us a tip or two that might help you capture the best that falling water offers. Best says there are many waterfalls in the Tillamook State Forest that go unvisited and are under appreciated.
You’ve many spectacular waterfalls to choose from when you visit the 9,000-acre state parkland called Silver Falls State Park. It offers a gorgeous Trail of Ten Falls plus the rustic South Falls Lodge that stands large from rock and timber construction.
Campers can let the romance last longer inside rental cabins that offer many of the comforts of home. (Reservations are advised.) Remember – rain gear and hiking boots will make your hiking adventures more comfortable in winter.
Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.