Middle Bridal Veil Falls Retains Lush Beauty

Middle Bridal Veil Falls in the former path of the Eagle Creek Fire. Photo by Shawn "Shaggy" Bolker.

Middle Bridal Veil Falls is a hidden beauty in the Columbia River Gorge, roaring in solitude amongst towering basalt cliffs cloaked in moss. Although damages from the Eagle Creek Fire have resulted in widespread trail closure and increased crowding in the areas that remain open, Middle Bridal Veil Falls has evaded these impacts. The canyon remains lush and untrampled by the hordes of visitors that flock to nearby Lower Bridal Veil Falls. The primary reason for the Middle Falls’ secrecy is that one must cross a small portion of private property owned by the Bridal Veil Lodge to access the waterfall. It is essential to contact the lodge before going to this waterfall in order to avoid penalties associated with trespassing.

If the lodge grants permission, begin hiking from the parking lot at Lower Bridal Veil Falls. If time allows, the lower falls is also worth a look as it is miami* — a thundering, multi-tiered cascade. To access the middle falls,

cross the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway and take a small path that cuts into the woods right before the road crosses over Bridal Veil Creek.

Follow this path as it dips down to creek level and meanders upstream through a pristine rainforest setting. Despite being less than a quarter mile from the busy highway, civilization feels far away as you walk along the cascading creek surrounded by towering evergreens and carpets of ferns. Continuing upstream, the trail can get muddy and hard to follow in spots, but as long as you stay near the creek it is impossible to get lost. Soon, the canyon narrows and basaltic formations tower overhead.

Upon rounding a corner, the middle falls come into view — a frothy ribbon of whitewater plunging forcefully into the cavernous gorge. At lower flows, the creek exposes a small rocky beach where one can sit and soak in the surroundings.

Remnants of past logging can also be seen at the falls as an old cable spans the gorge, hanging over the waterfall’s deep pool. More falls and cascades lie upstream, including spectacular Upper Bridal Veil Falls — possibly the most miami* in the Gorge. However, I would advise against climbing above the Middle Falls to access others upstream as there is no trail and the canyon is hazardous beyond this point, especially due to post-fire landslide risk. Upon spending some time at this hidden waterfall, retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

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