McClellan Falls is the major waterfall of Curly Creek, occurring where its stream intersects a major cliff band that runs north-south along the east side of the Lewis River Canyon, forming a powerful 143-foot tall plunging waterfall. Part of the stream appears to branch off upstream from the falls and enters the canyon in an adjacent veil to the left of the main fall. The entire canyon - walls and floor - are coated with a very thick carpet of moss below the falls, a testament to the volume of water and spray which can be present. On top of the moss in many areas grow immense thickets of devils club, which makes approaching the falls and the creek downstream quite difficult for those without an immunity to thorns.
- McClellan Falls is the Proposed name of this waterfall.
McClellan Falls was a real aberration to discover. The falls lie just a quarter mile from a major National Forest thoroughfare, yet were essentially entirely unknown until the early 2000s. We first noticed evidence that this waterfall existed on a digital copy of the USGS 1926 Steamboat Mountain 15-inch quadrangle, which noted "falls" in this area. When we investigated in 2002 we found Upper Curly Creek Falls but after several years developed a nagging feeling that a waterfall of such comparatively small stature wouldn't have been marked on a map of relatively large scale. Using resources like Google Earth we were able to confirm that there was indeed a much larger waterfall downstream and we re-investigated again in 2008 to find a huge cliff but we didn't have time to climb down to the bottom. However, our information was enough to inspire several Washington and Oregon photographers to seek out a route to the base of the falls and once and for all provide some solid photos. Other than the 1926 map, we hadn't seen any evidence that this waterfall was ever documented and we have never seen any indication that it has ever held an official or colloquial name, so we've chosen to name it for the McClellan viewpoint.
Take Interstate 5 to the town of Woodland, and exit onto Highway 503 heading east. Follow 503 east to Cougar, and continue to Forrest Service Road # 90, just passed the Pine Creek Ranger Station. Follow FR 90 for 4 1/4 miles and turn right onto Curly Creek Road (signed for Carson). Drive for just over 3 miles to the McClellan viewpoint and park. The key to finding the route to the base of McClellan Falls is finding the proper starting point. Walk across the road from the entrance to the viewpoint parking area and scan the edge of the forest for flagging that marks a very rough path. If you find the right spot, a fairly brush free, still-in-the-process-of-being-worn boot path will lead to the bottom of the canyon in about 1/4 mile (watch for pink flagging along the way). There are sheer cliffs guarding the canyon in all but two places, so if you find you're getting cliffed out, simply follow the rim of the canyon east towards Curly Creek until one of the two notches can be found out (there are obvious paths down both). The forest is very open for the entire route down and the only real brush issue is the thicket of devils club lining the creek immediately below the falls.