The upper falls along Bridal Veil Creek has long taunted me since I first saw a picture in a book detailing the history of the original Columbia Gorge Highway. So, finally, after some location scouting was provided to me from fellow waterfall hunter Tom Kloster, I made the mad dive into the brush to try to find this one. The falls end up being one of the best along the Scenic Highway stretch of the Columbia Gorge, outdone by two or three others at most. The falls occur where Bridal Veil Creek intersects one of the upper layers of the ubiquitous basalt formations in the area, sheeting out over a wide bench and plunging about 92 feet in a massive wall of water - stretching as much as 50 feet wide. Shortly downstream from the falls are a neat series of slides, which were unfortunately very difficult to photograph when I visited due to the lighting.
- Upper Bridal Veil Falls is the Adopted name of this waterfall.
During the heyday of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, there was a logging operation situated on the west flanks of Larch Mountain. Bridal Veil Creek was utilized as a method of moving the logs downstream, in many places, with the assistance of a flume. Early photographs show this flume stringing down the falls on the right side of the canyon (no evidence could be seen of it today) and crossing the creek several times before reaching the mill below Bridal Veil Falls. Oddly, many of these photos captioned it as Lower Bridal Veil Falls. I am almost led to question whether there might be a third waterfall even further upstream, since I suspect the area had been pretty well surveyed by the various logging operations.
This proved to be one of the most difficult waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge to access, and not one I would recommend to anyone with any sort of casual tendencies. Driving east on I-84 from Portland, exit at Bridal Veil. Shortly after exiting the freeway turn right onto the Historic Highway, with the parking area for the Angels Rest trailhead located adjacent. Immediately turn left uphill, along Palmer Mill Road. Drive for approximately 1 mile, parking 300 feet past a tributary stream. To the right, there is a bit of a level step in the canyon. Follow herd paths towards the creek, staying in the least brushy areas. The closer to the creek, the brushier it gets. The final 100 vertical feet are particularly tricky, as footing isn't all that visible. Once you find your way down to the creek, work upstream to the base of the falls, which should be plainly audible and partially visible after about half of the descent. The whole climb of about 500 feet took me almost an hour, so plan accordingly. A word of caution: stay away from the mossy cliffs closer to the falls. The moss is drier than it looks, and it doesn't have a good grip on the rock, so it tends to be very crumbly.