There are at least nine waterfalls in the area around Kaluwas Falls. Prior to 2005, the USGS had only recognized one by name, now only two are officially named. Some of the other falls are as significant as this is, but Kaluwas Falls, standing 223 feet tall, is the tallest and most impressive in the area. Skipping down the apex of a large amphitheater cut in a basalt plateau, Whychus Creek creates one of the better waterfalls in Oregon. Like The Cascades downstream, the comparatively small volume of Whychus Creek at this location was a bit of a disappointment, but the falls were taller than suspected and the surrounding landscape is exceptionally scenic - well worth the hike alone. Approaching the falls from downstream, the top of the drop is visible over the trees from a good Â¼ mile off, which builds nicely the anticipation - especially for those who have never seen the falls. Whychus Creek is fed by small glaciers on Broken Top, so the falls retain good flow all year, but the falls will definitely be most impressive June to mid July.
- Kaluwas Falls is the Proposed name of this waterfall.
- Known Alternate Names: Squaw Creek Falls, Upper Squaw Creek Falls, Upper Chush Falls, Whychus Creek Falls
Whychus Creek was formerly known as Squaw Creek, the name change coming in 2005 to bend to a certain level of political correctness (Squaw had been known to derogatorily refer to part of the female anatomy, among its several meanings). The Forest Service maintains the trail system to Chush Falls (which previously wasn't officially named), leaving the real Squaw Creek Falls (this waterfall) half a mile distant along an unofficial trail. When the name of Squaw Creek was changed to Whychus - its historical name - the falls needed to be renamed as well. Since the Forest Service only maintains the trail to the lower waterfall, they took the opportunity to officially name the lower waterfall Chush Falls, effectively giving it the status as the primary waterfall along the creek. They then named this waterfall Upper Chush Falls. This did not sit well with the local waterfall enthusiasts. The name "Chush" means "water" in the Sahaptin dialect, which is a bit redundant in the first place, but the nail in the coffin was referring to the tallest waterfall on Whychus Creek as a secondary feature which does not make sense when the precedent had been set for decades prior. Therefore, the Northwest Waterfall Survey proposes this waterfall be renamed in a manor more fitting its grandiosity. We propose the name Kaluwas Falls, following the Sahaptin theme of the other features in the area. Kaluwas is a word meaning "rim of a basket", meant as a descriptive of the distinct sharp rim of the amphitheater the falls cascade over. To further compound the naming confusion, the book "Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest" by David Anderson refers to this waterfall as Whychus Creek Falls, likely because the USGS didn't make it well known what they intended to name the falls by the time the book went to print.
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. From here, follow the Chush Falls trail for an easy mile to canyon-rim views of Chush Falls. Officially, the trail ends here, but it continues on as a plainly obvious route. The Cascades are encountered Â¼ mile further, with the trail ending at Kaluwas Falls a total of about 1-Â½ miles from the trailhead.