Union Creek is one of the largest tributaries of the American River, and naturally, one would assume a stream as large as this would have eroded its course evenly. Contrary to this thought, within the last half mile of its length, Union Creek plunges 60 feet over a sheer precipice into a short gorge. Based on some older photographs, it appears that the falls can and do change in appearance due to debris conglomerating at the top of the falls constricting or diverting the creek. At one point several years ago, it appears the majority of the flow of the creek was directed to the far left side of the cliff, making the falls fan out to over twice its current width. Additionally, a large logjam at the bottom of the gorge has been back-filled with gravel, and over the last 20 years or so, created a second tier to the falls, which drops about 20 feet. Also of interest in this immediate area is the significant population of Thatcher Ant colonies. Several large anthills can be seen just off the trail, many standing over 2 feet tall, and several ant "highways"Â cross the trail.
- Union Creek Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Located near Chinook Pass, off Highway 410, east of Mount Rainier National Park. On Highway 410, proceed 7 1/2 miles east of Chinook Pass, to the marked Union Creek trailhead. Park and walk about 1/4 mile along the trail. After crossing the creek on a bridge, the trail switches back, and climbs shortly. As the falls come in to view through the trees, an unmarked spur trail drops to the base of the falls. Two more switchbacks up the trail, a second spur drops down to the bottom of the upper tier of the falls, where the best views can be had. Do not try to get to the falls by wading up the creek from the bridge, you can't get at it from there, and would just get wet.