Hiking in Washington doesn’t get any better than setting out on a crisp, bright afternoon to find Panther Creek Falls. Imagine standing in a mossy oasis, surrounding by magnificent, cascading waterfalls. Rushing all around you as you stand from the safety of the lush green forest floor, Panther Creek Falls is a breathtaking natural wonder! And during your Columbia River Gorge vacation, you can discover them yourself!
For more information on the beautiful waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, download our free Vacation Guide! It includes recommendations for the best hikes, outdoor explorations, and more, such as this trip to the Panther Creek Falls.
The Journey to Panther Creek Falls
From personal experience, hiking to the Panther Creek Falls is entirely magical. During my first visit, I headed north from our Columbia Gorge Cabins on Wind River Road. I took the second Old State Road turnoff, just like Scott Cook’s Curious Gorge book instructed. I was looking for an obvious turnout, an old rock quarry that would serve not only as my parking place but as my starting place for searching for the slightly elusive trail head to Panther Creek Falls. Well, to this flatlander (35 years in Kansas) and recent city-dweller (downtown Philadelphia) turned innkeeper in the PNW, every tiny little dirt spot began to look like a turnout. I was getting a bit discouraged.
Getting Lost in Nature
Had I followed Cook’s very specific instructions to set my odometer and drive 7.2 miles on Panther Creek Road, I am quite sure I would have driven to the exact spot. However, I was too busy gawking at the neon green moss clinging to the trees. I had no idea that color even existed in nature! The sheer cliff’s dropping on either side of me and the occasional doe and her fawns frolicking ahead on the road caught my attention. After a beautiful drive up the mountain, I happened upon the obvious turnoff and parked. After a 50 yard jaunt back down the road from where I came, I saw it! The obscure, unmarked, and not any wider than a boogie board trail head appeared!
Off I went. Or rather, down I went. The Panther Creek Falls Trail was the most magical walk I have ever been on! As the sound of the nearby waterfall grew louder and more pronounced, the rest of the world became quieter and faded away. The ground was gently covered with a carpet of fragrant fir needles. Heavy moss clung to every branch and tree trunk absorbing any sound as I crunched along the path. Skinny rays of sunshine made their way through the overhead canopy.
And as I descended the path, I just couldn’t help but think, “This is surely where Tinkerbell and her cousins live when they are not spreading pixie dust.” The waterfall itself was breathtaking. And from the sturdy viewing platform opposite the falls, I could see where it started, fell, stopped, and traveled on downstream. Pictures were easy to take and turned out quite spectacular. I did not see one other person while I was there!
Discover Panther Creek Falls For Yourself!
So, if you want a magical, hard to find, out of the way paradise, it doesn’t get any better than this waterfall excursion! Be sure to discover this wonderful local gem during your next visit Carson Ridge Cabins. And do me a favor and tell Tinkerbelle I said hi!