Indian Point and Pacific Crest Falls

My Grandmother recently celebrated her 91st birthday and we wanted to take her out for a birthday dinner in Portland so we planned a trip up to the Columbia River Gorge to check another of the many area hikes off our to-do list. We chose a pair of hikes beginning at the same trailhead for the Herman Creek Trail.

Our plan was to start at the Herman Creek Campground near Cascade Locks visiting Pacific Crest Falls and then hiking out to Indian Point. We set off on the Herman Creek Trail and followed it for .6 miles to a fork where we headed right on the Herman Bridge Trail toward the Pacific Crest Trail.
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The Herman Bridge Trail descended .4 miles to a footbrdige over Herman Creek. This was the only place that we would encounter the creek on the trails.
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We reached the Pacific Crest trail in another .8 miles passing through some nice forest and getting some decent views.
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The views improved after we turned right on the PCT with Table Mountain and Greanleaf Peak visible across the river.
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Greenleaf Peak
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Table Mountain
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We weren’t sure what we would find when we arrived at Pacific Crest Falls just .4 miles up the PCT. It was October in an unusually dry year so we weren’t too surprised when we arrived at a nearly dry creek bed. We couldn’t see the falls as we approached but we could hear them up the narrow canyon. From the far side of the creek we could see the two tiered fall back in the canyon and we decided to scramble up the creek bed for a closer look.
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Despite there not being much water the musical sound of the cascade was relaxing. As we were making our way back from the falls we spotted a frog that really blended in with the fallen leaves.
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We had gone a little under 4 miles when we arrived back at the fork with the Herman Creek Trail which is why we had made Indian Point our second goal for the day. We took the Herman Creek Trail uphill toward a large trail junction .7 miles away.
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Several trails arrived at the trail junction near Herman Camp. The left hand trail was the Gorge Trail which led to Wyeth while the right hand trail was the continuation of the Herman Creek Trail. We took the Gorton Creek trail which was the middle trail .
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This trail climbed gradually offering occasional glimpses across the Columbia River to Washington.
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Along the way we had a momentary standoff on the trail with a rough skinned newt that wasn’t about to budge.
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We arrived at the Ridge Cutoff Trail after 2.6 miles which we would take for a loop back to the junction near Herman Camp, but before heading uphill on that trail we continued a short distance on the Gorton Creek Trail to an unsigned path on the left.
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The side path led steeply downhill to a ridge which we followed out to a rocky saddle below Indian Point.
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Several prominent landmarks were visible from the saddle.
Wind and Dog Mountians
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Mt. Adams
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Mt. St. Helens
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We declared victory at the end of the saddle directly below Indian Point and enjoyed a surprisingly wind free break before climbing back up to the Gorton Creek Trail. We then returned to the Ridge Cutoff Trail and headed uphill toward the Nick Eaton Ridge Trial. The cutoff trail climbed for a bit then leveled off before reaching the Nick Eaton Trail in a total of .6 miles.
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We turned right on the Nick Eaton Ridge Trail and continued our loop heading downhill at an impressive clip. The trail popped out into some grassy hillside meadows before beginning a series of unrelentingly steep switchbacks.
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It quickly became obvious why our guidebook recommended doing the loop clockwise as we descended the seemingly never ending switchbacks. After two miles of downhill hiking we arrived back at the Herman Creek Trail just a few hundred yards from Herman Camp. After retracing our steps back to the trailhead we drove to Grandma’s house ending our day with a nice visit and dinner. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157659046209928

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