Roundtrip 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain 300 ft
Big Creek Falls
Big Creek Falls:
The wide, compacted trail meanders through ancient Douglas-fir forest before reaching the viewing platform overlooking the falls. Start down the wide, well-groomed trail, and as you near the viewing area you'll hear crashing water echoing through the tall trees. Once you see it, the falling white water is awe-inspiring. The waterfall leaps into view as you round the last bend of the trail and immediately grabs your attention. The sight of the falls, the sound of the crashing water, and the mute vibrations caused by the pounding water dominate your senses. It is a wonderful experience. From the view point the trail continues on towards another viewing area and further down the trail you will reach Cave Falls.
Cave Falls is perhaps one of the most disappointing waterfalls in the whole state, but not for the reasons you’d expect. Cave Falls is also probably one of the most unique waterfalls in the whole state. Big Creek carves an impressive canyon as it makes its final descent from the volcanic plateau to the southwest of Mount Adams. Within this canyon are two notable waterfalls, Big Creek Falls, the more well known, and Cave Falls, the taller and more unique (by a long shot). Cave Falls occurs where the canyon constricts to just yards wide, and drops down one of the only true Slot Canyons in Washington. About 2/3 of the way down the canyon, the creek enters a natural cave, resulting in the name of the falls. As the creek emerges, it plunges about 40 feet into a large undercut grotto, then accelerates down the final portion of Cave Falls, which is, unfortunately the only part readily visible, hence the disappointment factor. In all, the falls are estimated to drop at least 450 feet, with a final plunge of maybe 150 feet or more. Only the top 100 feet of the final plunge can be seen. Walking along the trail, the falls are clearly audible, and fleeting glimpses can be had through the trees of portions of the falls, but short of donning a wet suit, and rappelling down the canyon itself, there is no way of seeing the entire falls. The path continues from here along the ridge until you reach the end of the trail. From here you can see Hemlock falls across the canyon to the left. Views from here are spectacular.
While Big Creek Canyon and its series of impressive waterfalls are clearly the water features of note seen in the immediate area, those who venture to the canyon-rim viewpoint overlooking the lower Lewis River Canyon will be treated to another sizable, albeit overlooked waterfall. Hemlock Creek, small enough that it isn’t even mapped, but large enough that the Forest Service has named it, jumps out of the thick woods, and plunges over 200 feet down the rim of the canyon. The small watershed limits the impressiveness of the falls, which usually run dry or near to dry late in the summer, but a week or two of constant precipitation will bring it back to life in spectacular fashion.
Located near Eagle Cliff, along FR 90. Drive for about 8 3/4 miles east of the end of SR 503 (SR 503 becomes FR 23, and FR 90 turns to the right), or about 5 1/2 miles west of the Lower Falls Recreation area to the signed trailhead. Follow the easy trail for about 500 feet to the viewing area. It is possible to climb down to the base of the falls via a steep scramble path.
Big Creek Falls Parking Area
Red TapeNorthwest Forest Pass required.
Northwest Forest Pass
Trail on map