Nestled on the eastern slope of Mount Hood in Oregon, the Tamanawas Falls Trail offers hikers a scenic adventure through lush forests and along Cold Spring Creek. The trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape the city and experience the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Accessible from the Tamanawas Falls Trailhead, this hike is perfect for families and can be enjoyed all year round, with the proper preparations.
The 3.6-mile round trip trail takes you to the awe-inspiring Tamanawas Falls, where Cold Spring Creek cascades over a 110-foot lava cliff, creating a stunning curtain of water. Surrounded by towering Douglas fir trees, the trail features a log bridge across the creek, leading you to the base of the falls. From here, you can appreciate the true magnitude of this hidden gem in Mount Hood National Forest.
Hikers can expect a moderate incline throughout the trek, gaining approximately 700 feet in elevation. With well-maintained pathways and picturesque views, the Tamanawas Falls Trail is an ideal choice for hikers seeking a serene and memorable outdoor experience in the heart of Oregon’s wilderness.
Tamanawas Falls Trail Basics
Location and Access
Tamanawas Falls Trail is a beautiful hike located near Mount Hood Parkdale, Oregon. This moderately challenging, 3.4-mile out-and-back trail takes you along scenic Cold Spring Creek, culminating in the stunning Tamanawas Falls. The falls form a broad curtain where Cold Spring Creek thunders over a 110-foot lava cliff near the eastern base of Mount Hood. This trek can be enjoyed year-round with proper preparation, although the best season for hiking is from April to November.
Parking and Trailhead Information
To access the Tamanawas Falls Trail, you’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass or an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass. A $5 day pass envelope is available at the trailhead for your convenience. The trail is dog-friendly, but remember to keep your furry friend on a leash during your hike.
Beginning at the East Fork Trail #650, make your way along the path, which follows Cold Spring Creek. The Tamanawas Falls Trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, making it easy to follow. The hike has an elevation gain of 580 feet, presenting a moderate challenge for hikers.
Remember to dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy, comfortable footwear. With proper preparation, you’ll experience a memorable hike to Tamanawas Falls, where you can cool off on a hot summer afternoon or simply enjoy the breathtaking view.
Hiking the Tamanawas Falls Trail
Difficulty and Elevation Gain
The Tamanawas Falls Trail is considered a moderately challenging hike, with approximately 850 feet of elevation gain. The hike takes an average of 1 hour and 35 minutes to complete and is best suited for hikers of an intermediate level. The trail is accessible from May through October.
Trail Route and Map
The Tamanawas Falls Trail can be accessed from the Tamanawas Falls Trailhead. The trail is part of the East Fork Trail #650 system, which you can follow for a 3.8-mile out-and-back hike.
For those looking for a longer and more varied experience, you can connect the Tamanawas Falls Trail with the Elk Meadows Trail to create a 4.2-mile loop. To do so, head north on the Elk Meadows Trail after visiting the falls and make your way to the Polallie Trailhead. From there, follow the river back to the main trailhead.
A GPS device or a trail map is strongly recommended as there are many connecting trails that may be confusing to some hikers.
Notable Features and Points of Interest
The Tamanawas Falls Trail winds its way through beautiful cedar forests, with a stunning waterfall as the main attraction. Along the way, hikers will cross a log bridge over Cold Spring Creek, which adds a unique feature to the hike.
This trail is also popular for birding and camping, so you might encounter fellow outdoor enthusiasts during your hike. Lastly, dogs are welcome on the trail, but be sure to keep them on a leash.
Natural Elements and Scenery
Flora and Fauna
The Tamanawas Falls Trail is a haven for nature enthusiasts, as it is rich in diverse plant life and habitats. Hikers are surrounded by lush forests, dominated by Engelmann spruce and Douglas fir trees. Along the trail, you’ll also come across a variety of undergrowth plants like pipsissewa, Sitka alder, and vine maple. These beautiful plants add to the vibrant atmosphere of this picturesque hike.
Waterfalls and Surrounding Landscape
The main highlight of the Tamanawas Falls Trail is the stunning Tamanawas Falls, formed by Cold Spring Creek cascading over a 110-foot andesite cliff. The hike starts at the Polallie Trailhead, located just off Highway 35 near the Hood River. Throughout the hike, visitors are treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding Mount Hood National Forest and the majestic Mount Hood itself. Along the way, you’ll also encounter a talus slope, a naturally occurring geological formation made of a jumble of loose rocks from the rocky cliffs.
Seasonal Changes and Best Time to Visit
The Tamanawas Falls Trail can be hiked from late spring to late fall, although some adventurers may opt to explore the area on snowshoes during the winter months when snow and ice cover the landscape. The spring and summer months offer a chance to witness the glorious colors of wildflowers in bloom along the path. For those who prefer a more serene and quiet atmosphere, visit during the weekdays to avoid the crowds that tend to gather on weekends.
When visiting during colder months, be prepared to navigate through snow and ice-covered trails, and remember that slippery conditions may make some parts of the hike more challenging. Regardless of when you choose to visit, the Tamanawas Falls Trail and its surroundings provide a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Mount Hood National Forest.
Activities and Amenities
Enjoying the Destinations
Tamanawas Falls Trail, located in the Mt. Hood National Forest, offers a great day hiking or running experience for people of all ages. The trail is moderately challenging with a length of 3.4 miles and an elevation gain of 580 ft. The switchback trail leads to the breathtaking Tamanawas Falls, which stand approximately 100 feet high and 40 feet wide.
Located only a couple of hours from Portland, this hike is perfect for families and individuals looking to spend some quality time in the beautiful surroundings of the Columbia River Gorge. The forest service provides several amenities to help you make the most of your time on the trail.
- Picnic Tables: Enjoy a lovely picnic in nature. Convenient tables are available along the trail and at the Tamanawas Falls Trailhead.
- Dogs on Leash: Bring your furry friends along for a fun hike. Dogs are welcome, but they must be leashed in the area.
- Sherwood Campground: In case you’re interested, the campground is just a 1/4 mile away from the Tamanawas Falls Trail #650A trailhead.
Safety and Regulations
While exploring the scenic Tamanawas Falls Trail, it’s important to ensure that you follow all safety guidelines and regulations issued by the forest service. To enjoy the trail, a pass is required. You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass, which can be purchased for a $5 day pass or an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass.
During the winter months, the trail can become a popular destination for snowshoe enthusiasts. Be prepared with appropriate attire and gear, and follow safety guidelines to make your experience enjoyable.
Trip Planning and Resources
Guidebooks and Maps
When planning a trip to Tamanawas Falls Trail, it’s essential to have reliable guidebooks and maps to help you navigate the area and provide valuable information. There are several guidebooks available that cover hiking trails in the region, such as 60 Hikes within 60 miles: Portland, 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon, and Take a Hike: Portland. For more waterfall-focused hikes, check out Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest and Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest.
Trip Reports and Trail Q&A
One of the best ways to get up-to-date information about the Tamanawas Falls Trail is to read trip reports and engage in trail Q&As. Websites like Oregon Hikers and AllTrails provide valuable insight from fellow hikers, which can help you anticipate trail conditions, decide on the best time to visit, and even discover hidden gems along the way.
Feel free to ask questions or share your experiences as well – this will not only benefit others but also help you gather firsthand knowledge from a variety of sources.