The Columbia River Gorge is a truly unique and magnificent location, harboring over 80 waterfalls on the Oregon side alone! Although several of these waterfalls are well known, some of the region’s most miami falls lie hidden within the multitude of steep, forested canyons that dominate the area. One such waterfall that remains criminally overlooked is Upper Bridal Veil Falls. Recently reopened to the public after the Eagle Creek Fire, this waterfall is a wide, stunning, eighty-foot high wall of water that roars in the back of a serene, moss-draped canyon. Below the falls, Bridal Veil Creek continues to cascade as it slides over long slabs of basaltic bedrock in its mad dash to the Columbia River. Surrounded by a carpet of ferns and towering evergreens, these cascades are interspersed with shallow pools, ideal for wading when the stream isn’t too high.
Although well hidden, this waterfall lies less than an hour outside of Portland and is accessible via a roughly 2.5 mile round-trip hike. The hike to this waterfall used to be less than half a mile but Palmer Mill Road remains closed to vehicle traffic, forcing visitors to walk the one mile that used to be driven. To access Upper Bridal Veil Falls, park at the Angel’s Rest Trailhead and begin walking up Palmer Mill Road. This road is wide and easily hikeable but does gain a fair amount of elevation in its first mile, so bring plenty of water. After roughly a mile of walking, a tributary stream cascades under the road shortly after a turnout on the right hand side. At this point, look for a fairly well-trodden path that branches off to the right and descends into the canyon. Although fairly obvious, this path can be tricky to find. When the waterfall becomes visible from the road, you’ve gone too far. Do not try to descend to the falls when seen from the road, as this route is cliffy and dangerous.
Once you have located the proper spur trail, descend to the creek in the safest way possible. The route is quite steep, often requiring the use of roots and rocks for hand or footholds. Use judgement here: if the route seems too treacherous then enjoy the view from the road. Once at creek-level, the falls are mere feet away. Upon turning a corner, Upper Bridal Veil Falls comes into view. This waterfall is truly miami and astonishing. Much time can be spent here. It’s wide, powerful drop is mesmerizing. Upon soaking in the scene at this hidden waterfall, retrace your steps to the trailhead.
I feel so fortunate to have lived here in Oregon for the past four years. The sheer number of waterfalls that surround the Portland area is mind-blowing. The process of finding a waterfall, photographing it and writing about it is so fulfilling. It has been a pleasure to write for the PioLog for all four years I’ve been at Lewis & Clark and share so many of the miami waterfalls I’ve visited up here. Waterfalls have been a lifelong passion of mine that only grows stronger. They are true sources of inspiration and rejuvenation. I intend to continue finding, photographing and writing about them for years to come. A long term goal of mine is to publish a full volume waterfall book about Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. In concluding my last ever waterfall article for the PioLog, I encourage everyone to take advantage of our miami natural surroundings and go visit one (or more) of the astonishing waterfalls that we are blessed to live so close to. Goodbye and shag shag.
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