Elowah Falls is one of the hidden gems in the Columbia River Gorge. The falls flow year round, but are best in the late winter and spring, like many others in the area. The cliffs on either side of the falls are flanked with the colorful yellow-green lichen found throughout the Columbia Gorge, adding a lot to the aesthetics of the scene. The falls are usually said to stand 289 feet tall, however repeated visits led us to doubt the validity of that figure. At certain places along the trail to the falls its possible to see Elowah and a part of Upper McCord Creek Falls in tandem, which could have possibly led to the idea that it was one series of waterfalls. Turns out the USGS had sent a survey team to determine the height of the falls in 1916 - their efforts produced a height of 221 feet. We measured the falls in 2009 to be 213 feet tall, so the only way the height of 289 feet could have materialized is if Upper McCord Creek Falls were included. Along the trail to both Elowah and Upper McCord Creek Falls can be seen several sections of old cast iron and wooden pipes which were used to flume pressurized water water to the Crown Willamette Paper Company mill along the Columbia River.
- Elowah Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
- Known Alternate Names: McCord Creek Falls
When the original Columbia River Gorge Highway was constructed, the road crossed McCord Creek at approximately the same place Interstate 84 does today, but the falls were completely visible at the time (they can't be seen from the highway now unless the trees are bare). At the time the falls were known as McCord Creek Falls, but in 1915 the Mazamas successfully had the falls renamed to Elowah - the meaning of which is unknown. Apparently around the time when the name was changed, the falls were also known as Pierce Falls.
Located near Warrendale in the Columbia River Gorge. Driving east from Portland along I-84, exit the freeway at the Dodson exit (also signed for the Scenic Highway). Just after exiting the freeway, turn left onto a frontage road that runs parallel to the Interstate, and follow it for 2 miles to John B. Yeon State Park. If you are heading west on I-84, simply exit I-84 at Exit 37, turn left and drive a short distance to the parking lot. The trail starts climbing rather gradually from the parking lot for about .3 miles to a signed fork. The right fork goes steeply uphill to spectacular aerial views of the falls from a ledge carved out of rock 400 feet above the canyon, then proceeds on to Upper McCord Creek Falls. The left trail descends to McCord Creek and crosses immediately in front of the base of the falls.