Just off Route 30 between Portland and Astoria, travelers can gush over a short hike to a lovely waterfall. Beaver Falls (a.k.a. Beaver Creek Falls) takes a single-drop plunge off a basalt ledge. The waterfall is nearly 50 feet tall and swells to 40 feet wide. This quick delight of a hike descends 100 feet through forest for a 0.7-mile round trip outing. Add this Columbia County waterfall to the itinerary for your trip to the Oregon Coast!
The adventure departs from a large dirt turnout along Beaver Falls Road, just 3.6 miles off Route 30 (and 75 minutes from Portland). Walk a few steps east along the road to a sign reading “Beaver Falls Trailhead” where the hike begins.
The single-track trail descends a couple switchbacks right off the bat, entering a forest above Beaver Creek. Cedars, firs, hemlock, and maples wrap the trail in a lush canopy. Oregon grapes and ferns line the rocky, uneven trail. Although this hike is short, sure footing is required.
Beaver Falls Trail is mostly downhill, sacrificing 100 feet. The trail does have a few undulations where it passes rocky cliffs. Arrows are spray painted on tree trunks and rocks, in case there was any way to get off course. Through the trees, catch glimpses of Beaver Creek, flowing west as you travel east.
After 0.3 miles, the trail exits the forest and drops to the side of Beaver Creek, offering your first view of Beaver Falls. Walk up the creek to a rocky bank across from the waterfall. Now stop to admire the beauty.
Beaver Falls is broad and full with an impactful single drop. Small droplets of mist spread out from the base of the waterfall. Hexagonal columns of basalt form a wall to the right of the Beaver Falls and a bigger overhang in the basalt cliffs has been carved out behind the waterfall and to the left.
You might spot the fender of a car on the rocky beach next to you. You can also look for the frame of a car in the pool in front of the waterfall, having crashed down from Beaver Falls Road (atop the cliffs to the left).
You could turn back when you get to the Beaver Falls amphitheater for a 0.6-mile hike, or press on to explore behind the waterfall.
A bridge of rock and logs crossing the creek to the right may allow you to form a loop behind the waterfall. Once across the creek, you can also venture upstream for a look down over the falls.
The more obvious path is to continue along the left side of the creek and pass under the overhang to the back of the waterfall. Cross a jumble of rocks below the basalt cliffs as you ease closer to the waterfall. The rocks become wetter, muddier, and slipperier as you go, so be careful. Pass a dark recess in the back of the overhang that looks like a cave but is quite shallow.
Approach the back of the overhang, watch the water fall, and gaze downstream. You can turn around at any point behind Beaver Falls or continue all the way around in a loop if the creek is low enough to rock hop across and return to the end of the trail.
Hike back up the way you came for a short trek that is just 0.7 miles round trip with minimal elevation change (but rough terrain). Dogs are welcome, but Beaver Falls Trail is not appropriate for bikes. No permit or fee is required to hike to Beaver Falls, so get out and enjoy!
- To see the tallest Oregon waterfall west of the Willamette, check out Munson Creek Falls Trail.
To get to the trailhead: From Portland, take Route 30 northwest for 52 miles to Beaver Falls Road. The right turn onto Beaver Falls Road comes 4.8 miles past the interchange with Route 433 near Longview, Washington. Drive 3.6 miles up Beaver Falls Road and pull into the large dirt turnout on the left, just past the start of Beaver Falls Trail.
From Astoria, drive east on Route 30 for 34 miles to the town of Clatskanie. Turn left onto North Nehalem Street. Drive a couple blocks to an awkward intersection and turn onto the second street on the left, which is NW 5th Street. Drive 6 miles from here to the trailhead, which will be on the right (5th Street becomes Beaver Falls Road after half a mile).
Trailhead address: Beaver Falls Road, Clatskanie, OR 97016
Trailhead coordinates: 46.10394, -123.1298 (46° 06′ 14.2″N 123° 07′ 43.7″W)
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