Despite the disappointing snowpack across the state, sunny skies and warm spring temperatures mean it's waterfall season in Oregon. Here are three worth leaving the county for.
White River Falls State Park
This park contains at least three of my favorite features: huge geologic landforms, a series of cascading whitewater falls, and the physical remains of days gone by--in this case stony, steely ruins of last century's hydroelectric plant. That said, the best thing about this place is its status as one of Oregon's most unsung state parks, often passed over for attractions in the Gorge just 35 miles to the north. There's no epic hiking or camping here, but it's a good stopover on a warm spring afternoon and makes for a decent swimming hole in the late summer.
Relatively close to White River Falls, but near the opposite end on the popularity scale, is this 150-foot whitewater tower. While not as insanely busy as Multnomah Falls, this place is hopping in the summer months, so take in this spectacle during spring if you are hoping for anything resembling solitude. It is accessed via the 3.8 mile, out-and-back East Fork #650/Tamanawas Falls #650A trail, which ushers you through mixed coniferous forest along Cold Spring Creek. The trailhead is located on Highway 35, roughly 25 miles south of Hood River. If you want to make a trip of it, Sherwood Campground is just a quarter mile away and opens in May.
By all accounts, this is the place to go if you like your waterfalls served with a side of solitude. Located within the Mt. Hood Wilderness, this rocky, six-mile hike is rife with wildlife and wildflowers, and showcases a view of three falls careening off the Sandy Glacier on the west side of Mt. Hood. It is accessed by taking a number of forest roads off of East Lolo Pass road, so it's best to call the Zig Zag Ranger Station for current conditions before heading out. For directions check out the excellent write-up and stunning photos from folks at the Outdoor Project at outdoorproject.com.