After the Columbia Gorge fires last year, I have felt some serious waterfall withdrawals. Luckily, there are plenty in Oregon and Washington if you’re willing to drive a little further. This past weekend I looked through a book on Waterfalls in Oregon and chose Umbrella Falls because (a) I have never been and (b) it is less than 2 hours away.
The Umbrella Falls Trail (#667) starts in the Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot. I was disappointed when I saw the waterfall was only 1/4 miles into the trail because I like ending my hikes with waterfalls as a reward. I lucked out because surprise: walking just over a mile past Umbrella Falls is Sahale Falls! Two waterfalls in one hike sounds pretty good to me!
Umbrella Falls reminded me of Ramona Falls in that it cascades and maintains contact with a rocky surface rather than plunges over a cliff. There is a cute little footbridge over the stream too. It is so picturesque that I stumped across a photo shoot for a wedding. There is a fork in the trail a little bit past Umbrella Falls. If you want to see Sahale Falls, follow the direction on the sign and go right. The sign says the Falls are in a mile, but according to my Apple Watch, it is a little further.
It is very easy to miss the turn off to Sahale Falls (in fact, I missed it the first time and added about a mile to my hike before a kind stranger redirected me). The turn off will be on your right and you will have to scramble down a very steep and dusty path to get a good view of the falls. I had to slide on my bottom and grab onto tree trunks. This is why I do not recommend taking small children or a dog on this hike, although I saw two German Shepherds make it down okay (my tiny Maltese would not be so agile).
The base of the falls is very Gorge-esque. There is a pool at the bottom of the falls which cascades into smaller waterfalls as the stream continues. There are rocks you can sit on to eat a snack or take photos of the Falls. You can even wade or swim in the pool if you do not mind the ice cold water.
I turned around after taking several photos of Sahale Falls and unfortunately most of the elevation gain on this hike is on the way back, once you’re nice and tired. I gained about 700 feet in 2 miles, so it really wasn’t that bad. Overall I walked 4.5 miles and gained a total of 1000 feet, but I did add almost one extra mile by passing Sahale Falls and turning around. The trail does continue past Sahale Falls and who knows what comes next? It might be worth exploring if you would like a longer hike.
A quick recap of the Umbrella Falls hike:
- ~4 miles out and back, can be made longer
- ~1,000 feet elevation gain (300 one way, 700 the other)
- Not crowded on a Saturday
- Two waterfalls
- Pretty easy Good parking lot
- Very dusty trail (black shoes were grey by the end)
- Treacherous and easy to miss path to Sahale Falls