- Level: Easy to Siouxon Falls (Beginner Level: Challenging)
- Length: 3.8 miles
- Elevation: not exactly sure, but less than 700 ft. gain
- Type: out and back
- Level: Moderate to Chinook Creek Falls
- Length: 7.8 miles
- Elevation: 700 ft. gain
- Type: out and back
- Open: all year
- Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
- Drive time from Portland: 1.5 hours
- Google map: “Siouxon Creek Trailhead” (screenshot directions, you will lose reception.)
- Features: Camping spots, swimming holes, Horseshoe Creek, Siouxon Creek, Siouxon Falls, Chinook Creek Falls, Gifford Pinchot NF
This trail is in the top tier of my all time favorites. I’ve done it twice now, the first time was about a year ago just after a crazy snow storm. Everything was covered in snow and icicles and though it was downright hazardous at times, it was stunningly worth it. Although it is said to be open year round, it was challenging getting up to the trailhead when the roads were packed with snow. Make sure to check accessibility online or with the ranger district.
(I revisited this trail on April 6, 2016.)
This last time, on a snow-free almost warm fall day, was just as incredible and dramatic even without the stunting snow. Every few hundred feet, my girlfriend and I punctuated the air with “this is so amazing,” and “I can’t believe this place,” as we found prize after prize. The forest smelled of honeyed pine, warm earth, cold water, the occasional phenolic scent of mushrooms kicked from trees by careless hikers who must not like beautiful things. We all worship in our own way, I guess. The complexity of this ancient forest is overwhelming, simply. Mossy Dr. Seussian branches, fallen ancient Douglas firs and cedars reincarnated into the holiest muppet-faced nurse logs, elaborate snags that spiral or even have trees growing out of them. So many lichens and mushrooms. And the water, deep green and blue pools with sweet cascades and waterfalls.
The trail is extremely steady with tiny inclines and declines and flat stretches. It is a great one for folks who may be newer to hiking who want to try for some distance, or anyone who just wants to collect a million nature prizes with their eyes. As with any trail, if you think about it, you can choose how far you want to go despite the listed mileage. The only downside-not-downside to this trail: it is open to mountain-bikers. I am really trying to like mountain-bikers… Most are courteous and awesome, really, but I’ve encountered too many jerks who act like they’re doing something more important than you just because they’re going faster. This could be said for a lot of hikers and trail runners, too, but I’ll unpack that another time.
From the trailhead:
Hike downhill to the right onto the Siouxon Creek Trail (there may or may not be a sign, but the turn is obvious). After 1.6 miles, a footbridge crosses a gorgeous double waterfall on Horseshoe Creek (the right fan of the falls may dry up in the hotter months). Just 0.3 mile up, you’ll reach Siouxon Falls, a 40-foot waterfall slide. This is a good turnaround point for those who prefer a shorter trail. Otherwise, continue another 1.8 miles to a cascading creek that obstructs the trail. Be careful when crossing the slippery rocks. A bit further on, turn left off of the Siouxon Trail onto a footbridge above a mossy-rocked, blue water gorge. From there, continue another quarter mile, passing some cool picnic tables and benches, to 50-foot Chinook Creek Falls. Return as you came.
Check out other times I’ve done this trail: April 6, 2016