Portland, OR: Herman Creek Pinnacles

Ditch the crowds on this lesser-traveled, 8.7-miler in the Columbia River Gorge that features shady old-growth forest, striking rock pinnacles, and a breathtaking waterfall.
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Ditch the crowds on this lesser-traveled, 8.7-miler in the Columbia River Gorge that features shady old-growth forest, striking rock pinnacles, and a breathtaking waterfall.

While it's no secret that the trails along Herman Creek and Dry Creek offer spectacular hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, relatively few hikers know to link these two popular trails on a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail. This 8.7-mile out-and-back explores a lesser-known route that travels through old-growth forest to the towering remains of several crumbling basalt monoliths and a 50-foot waterfall.
The trail starts in the Herman Creek Campground and climbs through lush forest. After 0.6 mile, leave the crowds that head up the canyon, and descend to the Herman Creek Bridge and the PCT; keep an eye out for fairy slipper, a vibrant purplish-pink wildflower. After 1.8 miles, turn right (west) onto the PCT and pass a small, tiered waterfall. Less than a quarter mile past the falls, look for towering lava pinnacles on the right side of the trail. A short, rocky spur leads to the base of the pinnacles and a small campsite.
From the pinnacles, continue west on the PCT toward Dry Creek Road. Along the way, cross several moss-covered rockfall slopes that offer views of the Columbia River and Table and Hamilton mountains. Less than 2 miles later, cross the bridge at Dry Creek, then turn left on the road, heading up the hill. The road ends at the 50-foot Dry Creek Falls, a stunning waterfall that pours down a moss-covered basalt amphitheater. After enjoying the cool falls and a snack, return to the trailhead on the same route.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 14.0

Waypoints

PIN001

Location: 45.6825284, -121.8425417

Hike southwest from the trailhead in Herman Creek Campground. In 650 feet, the trail switchbacks to the left.

PIN002

Location: 45.6812841, -121.8428206

Cross a service road. Ahead, the signed route swings to the right under power lines.

PIN003

Location: 45.678773, -121.8428636

Bear right @ Y-junction and follow the trail down to the Herman Creek Bridge. Look for the vibrant purplish-pink flowers of fairy slipper that dot the ground.

PIN004

Location: 45.6783982, -121.8363512

Cross a bridge over Herman Creek.

PIN005

Location: 45.6718388, -121.8389475

The trail intersects the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at a T-junction. Turn right onto the PCT, heading west.

PIN006

Location: 45.668645, -121.8452775

Photo op: The route crosses an unnamed creek just below cascades and a tiered waterfall. Watch for the pinnacles after rounding the next bend.

PIN007

Location: 45.6690986, -121.8483245

Pass a group of lava pinnacles on the right side (north) of the trail. Look for a short spur trail that climbs to the base of the pinnacles; a small campsite and fire ring are also located here. Ahead: Cross several moss-covered rockfall slopes that offer views of the Columbia River and Table and Hamilton mountains. Look and listen for pika.

PIN008

Location: 45.6600073, -121.8694496

Cross the bridge over Dry Creek.

PIN009

Location: 45.6599323, -121.8697715

Turn left on Dry Creek Road, hiking south up the hill to Dry Creek Falls.

PIN010

Location: 45.6572553, -121.8670249

Dry Creek Falls: Gaze up at this 50-foot waterfall that pours down a mossy cliff. Since the falls are mentioned in few guidebooks, there's a good chance you'll have it to yourself. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

Dry Creek Falls

Location: 45.6572628, -121.8668747

This 50-foot waterfall is the end of the line. Since it's in few guidebooks, there's a good chance you'll have it to yourself. © Eli Boschetto

Trailhead

Location: 45.6825359, -121.8423915

Start the trail in the Herman Creek Campground. © Eli Boschetto

Herman Creek

Location: 45.6784057, -121.8361902

Descend to the Herman Creek Bridge, then start the climb to meet the PCT. © Eli Boschetto

Moonwort

Location: 45.6749349, -121.8367696

Plenty of spring color adorn the slopes and trailsides. © Eli Boschetto

Cascade

Location: 45.6686525, -121.8451273

Trail crossing just below cascades and tiered waterfall on unnamed creek. © Eli Boschetto

Fairyslipper

Location: 45.6687649, -121.8529272

This delicate, uncommon wildflower is named for the beautiful sea nymph in Homer's "Odyssey" - Calypso Bulbosa. © Eli Boschetto

Pacific Crest Trail

Location: 45.6669955, -121.8636775

Stroll through shady old growth on your way to Dry Creek Falls. © Eli Boschetto

The Pinnacles

Location: 45.6691098, -121.8481743

The pinnacles are made of crumbling basalt. Look for this geologic formation just off the trail. © Eli Boschetto