Thursday, May 22, 2014

Two or Three Waterfalls on Lindsey Creek?

Lindsey Creek

Acoustics can be strange, and the landscape, when seen from different angles, deceptive.  Points reached by different routes can be confusing…  

Lindsey Creek has two waterfalls for sure, Harrison Falls, actually visible from I-84 when the leaves are down in the winter, if you know where to look, and Lindsey Creek Falls. 

But I am not entirely sure that these are the only two.

Harrison Falls on Lindsey Creek (2013)
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. November 1, 2013.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

The lower waterfall is sometimes called Lower Lindsey Creek Fall, but more and more it’s old name is returning to use, Harrison Falls.

... This waterfall [Lindsey Creek Falls] was called Harrison Falls early in the 20th century. After the original Columbia River Scenic Highway was built, a number of auto camps were built along the new road. The one that operated at Lindsey Creek was known as Harrison's Auto Camp. No trace of it remains.

Doug Gorsline, "" website, 2013 (Via

... Early postcards have this waterfall captioned as "Harrison Falls", or "Harrison Falls near Harrison Auto Camp, Columbia River Highway". I suspect this is simply a historic unofficial naming. ...Harrison Falls is the Historical name of this waterfall.

Known Alternate Names: Lower Lindsey Creek Falls.

Bryan Swan, "" website, 2013 (Via

It is easily reached by pulling off the eastbound freeway at the large turnout east of Lindsey Creek, where the old auto camp apparently was located. 

Lindsey Creek Turnout, Looking West (2013)
Lindsey Creek Turnout, Looking West (2013)

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. November 1, 2013.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt , All Rights Reserved

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center Photo Archive
Catalog Num: 1999.13.94P
Condition: Good
Location: The Dalles, Oregon
Content: No. 52. Harrison's Auto Camp, Columbia River Highway
Other Notes: description from above on correspondence
Photographer: B.C. Markham, The Dalles, Oregon

Today, nothing remains of the scene pictured above. Decades of flooding have wiped out not only the site of this camp but also the picnic area that was near Lindsey Creek until the 1960s.

Approximate Site Of Harrison Auto Camp and Picnic Area (2013)

HCRH. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. November 1, 2013.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt , All Rights Reserved

There is a sort of trail to the falls leading up the east bank of the creek, though it may require getting wet here and there (in November, at least, when I was there last).  Good views can also be found on the slopes above the west bank, at least when the leaves are down.  This is where I shot my photo of these falls from.

This area was also the original trailhead for the Mt. Defiance trail( 

Harrison Falls (2013)
Harrison Falls (2013)
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. November 1, 2013.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Still, looking at the map above, it seems like Harrison Falls may be marked a little too far upstream.  Standing on the west side of the ravine above, though, under the powerlines, one can hear Harrison Falls towards the freeway, but it sounds like there is another large waterfall upstream from it to the south, best heard from the south edge of the powerline clearing.

Above a waterfall?
Sure sounds like it, but it is tricky and dangerous getting much closer than this. Upstream from Harrison Falls so I think this is a different one.  There is a third further to the south, but I suspect this is the big one on Lindsey Creek, it's quite a drop between the valley on the right and the ravine on the left.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. November 1, 2013.

Not quite sure what is down there, and at first I thought it was the waterfall Scott Cook calls Lindsey Creek Falls in his book Pokin’ Round The Gorge, but reading the directions to that waterfall a little more closely, and then tracing them out on Google Earth, this is starting to sound more like the one marked on the map above and one I’ve glimpsed from the Lindsey Creek Road, which is marked in blue on the map below.

Jess - Lindesy Creek Road
Map by Paul Jess.

"Upper" Lindesy Creek Falls (2013)
"Upper" Lindsey Creek Falls from the old Lindsey Creek road grade (2013)
The perspective in the photo above is a bit strange, since it looks like it was taken from the west side of the ravine, but due to the meandering nature of the creek and the high power zoom, this is just an illusion, this was taken from the east side of the ravine.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. November 1, 2013.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt , All Rights Reserved

Cook’s directions to the falls start at the same location as Curious Gorge Hike #32: Summit Falls/Historic Highway Loop (pg. 76, 2012 edition), but then following the BPA access road’s east fork towards Lindsey Creek.

Follow the double track to the last tower, cut left around it then swing to the right, under the lines and over the sticks into the forest.  Pick your way on the old roadbed for a minute until you see a rough trail climbing down to the left.  Follow this down then angle upstream and bushwhack over to the creek … and take note of where you are so you can find it on the way back!  Now you begin to splash, bob, weave and hop for 8-9 minutes to the falls.

           Scott Cook.  Pokin’ Round the Gorge.  Hood River, OR: Scott Cook. 2008. 81.

Roughly recreating his directions in Google Earth leads to a map that looks like this, though in November 2013, few traces of the roads Cook describes were visible.  The route below is speculative, so please use caution if attempting to follow it, and it is based on a combination of Cook’s directions and my own experience in the area.

Upper Lindesy Creek Map

His photo of the falls themselves graces the cover of the book.  There are more inside, but due to the nature of that book, and this site, this is the only one I’m comfortable posting!

Lindsey Creek Falls

So, is there a hidden “Middle” Lindsey Creek Falls?  There could be.  Cook’s directions to the upper falls seems to bypass the area where the sound of a waterfall is coming from.  Also, zooming in a bit on Google Earth, there sure seems to be at least one waterfall down there that looks at least as large as Harrison Falls. 

Middle Lindsey Creek Falls
Click to enlarge…

One of these days I’ll pick my way down into that ravine and find out, unfortunately, the last time I was there I was by myself, it was getting late, and nobody really knew where I was if something went wrong, so I was playing it really safe and taking no risks.  But I think this summer, tramping up and down the creek on a hot summer day may be a fun adventure! 

I’ll update with what I find!

Update – Like 15 minutes later…

I need to remember to hit Google before I hit send…

A good thread (with great pictures) on Lindsey Creek.  Probably not a big “middle” falls in there, just lots of whitewater essentially making the whole stretch one big falls.  But there are more falls upstream from Lindsey Creek Falls.

Lindsey Creek 8 23 2011:

More on the Lindsey Creek Falls:

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