Phoenix Falls was a virtual unknown until exploration of the canyons of the Whychus Creek drainage. While scouting possible routes for hiking in the area, I saw a pretty obvious waterfall on the maps, and compared it to the aerial photography, and it looked like it panned out. So, upon embarking on the trek, this waterfall became the upstream end of the outing. After crossing through a burned-out area, and following a meandering stream through a narrow canyon, this positively beautiful 120-foot waterfall revealed itself veiling into the canyon in an amphitheater flanked by cliffs on one side, and lengthy talus slopes on the other, with patches of meadows below the falls. To top the scene off, the falls lie right in the middle of an area burnt down by a forest fire. Surprisingly, this doesn't detract from the beauty of the scene at all - rather it adds to it. This is such a great waterfall I had a hard time determining which in the area was the best one. Ultimately, Kaluwas Falls won out because of its height, but this one is a close second. Fair warning, however; though the cross country travel to the falls is quite easy, you need to make sure you're familiar with your surroundings and orientation, because it is easy to get lost en route to the falls if you don't know your baring.
- Phoenix Falls is the Proposed name of this waterfall.
Because the falls are located in an area burned by a recent forest fire, I felt the name Phoenix Falls was more than appropriate. Those of you not familiar, a Phoenix is a mythical bird who, upon death combusts and from the ashes a new Phoenix is reborn.
The waterfalls of Whychus Creek are located just inside the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, located south of the town of Sisters. From Highway 242 in downtown Sisters, turn south on Forest Service Road 16, signed for Three Creek Lake (do not follow FR 15, signed for Whychus Creek, west of town). After 7 miles, turn right onto FR 1514, and proceed just under 5 miles to FR 1514-600, immediately before crossing Whychus Creek on a large concrete bridge, and turn left. Road 1514-600 is very rough, but passable for passenger cars with decent clearance. Follow this rough road for another 2 miles to a T-junction and bear left, reaching the trailhead in another Â½ mile. Because the falls are located in a dangerous area, I'm not posting specific directions. You'll need good navigational skills, a map and a compass or GPS to find the falls. The easiest access is from the south side of the creek, between Squaw and Park Creeks - this will require at least one ford of Squaw Creek. I recommend staying high, within the part of the burn zone that hasn't started re-growing small brush yet. The falls can be clearly seen from the rim of the canyon, but best views are from the base - an easy but crumbly scramble down into the canyon.