Hike 65
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Cape Horn Waterfalls Hike
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Map of the Cape Horn Waterfalls Hike

Length: 3 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 400 feet
Season:   Late winter thru late fall, however trail closed February 1st to July 16th in order to protect nesting peregrine falcons
Difficulty:   Moderate
Permit:   Pass Not Required
GPS:   N45 34.386 W122 11.994
Latitude:   45.5731
Longitude:   -122.1999

 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

This is one of two hikes that I present for the Cape Horn area. The other is a short viewpoint hike. This hike takes you down over the cliffs of the horn, and eventually to a couple of ways to view a waterfall.

The parking area for this hike option at Cape Horn was not specified the day I reviewed it. So, just park a bit west of where the trail drops off over the cliffs, about seven miles east of Washougal, Washington. It is a bit hard to find at first, but once you do, just park along SR14 and take the cutoff trail a short distance to the Cape Horn Trail.

This hike is about more than a waterfall or two. It is as much about views and flowers as anything. Of course, the floral displays are seasonal and you would be wise to enjoy this hike anytime from April thru July. However, any time of year is a great opportunity to feast on the views offered by this unique hike.

This trail starts out in a dense alder forest. Just within a short distance, maybe a quarter mile, you will see a small trail leading off to the left, or east. Follow this trail to your first great vista of the Columbia River Gorge from this unique trail. Return to the main trail and continue along the trail to yet another small trail. Follow this trail also for just a short distance and you will come to yet another viewpoint on your left. This area also provides you a view of a beautiful cascading creek, which is the source of the waterfall that you will eventually end up at on this very hike.

After returning to the trail, continue downhill and you will then cross that little creek you just saw earlier. After the crossing, you will continue a short distance before you come out in an open area where the trail parallels the cliff edge. Here you will enjoy more great vistas of the Columbia River Gorge. The trail then heads back into the woods and off and on you will be in the open then in the woods.

At the lowest point of the hike, you will see a small trail that will take you about 20 feet or so out onto a most excellent viewpoint. Here you can look down on the railroad below you that enters into the tunnel which is part of the land upon which you are standing. The railroad travels through a tunnel that is 2382 feet in length, making it the longest tunnel in the gorge.

Returning to the main trail, you will walk just a short distance to another such overlook. After about a quarter mile, you will be able to step out on the last overlook of the hike. After this you begin to climb fairly steeply through a series of short switchbacks as you approach your destination. The waterfalls varies in flow, depending on the season. After summer begins, there is barely any water at all. However, in the spring, the flow is intense enough to enjoy walking behind the falls, before you make your return hike to the top of this trail where you began.

This falls is part two of a three tier falls that end up in the Columbia River. The tallest of the three is not visible from the trail. It falls below into the river.

View along Cape Horn Waterfall trail
View along Cape Horn Waterfall trail

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