Enjoy telltale signs of spring’s approach as you wander through budding underbrush to a stunning waterfall and unique rock formations in the Columbia River Gorge. This little-used segment of the Pacific Crest Trail leads to the very wet Dry Creek Falls and basalt pinnacles locally known as the Herman Humps. Views of the Columbia River, a bubbling creek and historic equipment round out this pleasant, forested hike.

Your journey will begin a bit inauspiciously, as you cross the on-ramp for Bridge of the Gods and briefly parallel roaring I-84. This only lasts about 0.2 miles, though. After crossing under an overpass, turn right on a gravel road, following the signs to the Pacific Crest Trail, which will be on the left after about 100 yards.

Enter the forest and marvel as the traffic noise melts away during the next 0.7 miles of meandering incline. At the height of this gentle climb, you will be afforded a view across the Columbia as you pass under a large power line.

You will quickly duck back into the forest, laced with evergreen Oregon grape, budding Indian plum bushes and the chatter of returning songbirds.

©Jenni Denekas

Stay right at an unmarked fork about 0.5 miles later, sticking to the main trail. After another 0.3 miles, you will cross a gravel road and be greeted with a welcome sight: the sparkling rapids of Dry Creek and a footbridge. Take a moment to enjoy this pleasant spot before turning uphill on the gravel road, which climbs 0.2 miles to Dry Creek Falls.

Make sure to cross the sturdy cement rampart that straddles Dry Creek so that you can stand at the base of this impressive cascade and feel the spray. Also, note the rusted equipment near the base of the falls. These artifacts are left over from the diversion of the creek to the growing town of Cascade Locks during the construction of Bonneville Dam in the 1930s. Although the creek now flows year-round, it has retained its name from that era.

For an easy 4-mile hike, turn around after Dry Creek Falls. Otherwise, return to the footbridge and cross Dry Creek. The trail will become narrower and rockier as you pass a large boulder field about 1 mile after the bridge. This partial clearing also provides a view of the Columbia. Soon the trail will loop right and gradually descend, paralleling a broad gulch. At this point, an immense rock face will be visible through the trees. Continue along the twisting trail as it crosses a small stream, wraps around the rock face, and descends into a moist, slightly marshy span of forest.

©Jenni Denekas

Soon you will reach the Herman Humps, an array of 50-foot basalt pinnacles that rise out of moderately-graded talus slopes. Allow plenty of time to climb and explore this bizarre landscape before retracing your steps to the trailhead.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation gain: 750 feet
Distance: 2.0 miles to waterfall, 3.5 to pinnacles (7 miles round-trip)
Best season: 4 seasons
Trail head amenities: Bathroom
Passes/Permits: NW Forest Pass
Open to: Hikers, Dogs
Maps: USGS: Hood River, OR
Directions: I-84 from Portland: 1. Head west on I-84 W for 40.1 miles. 2. Take exit 44 toward US 30/Cascade Locks/Stevenson. 3. Merge onto Cascade Locks Highway/Wa Na Pa Street. 4. Take the first right onto Toll House Park. 4. Take an immediate right into the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead parking lot. Be careful not to overshoot and end up crossing the bridge into Washington—and paying an unnecessary toll.

©Jenni Denekas
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