Archer Creek (Columbia River Gorge)
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Difficulty:3C I (v3a4 I)
Raps:4, max ↨60ft
Red Tape:No permit required
15 May 2023
"Short fun after work outing. Future parties should use caution on R4: there are large cracks on the DCL side of the log that's being used as an anchor
Another short, close-in creek in the Columbia Gorge at has a neat mini-narrows and a couple of hanging pools. The creek takes a few hours to run and could be combined with other short creeks in the area. Makes for a nice quick after-work adventure when the days are long.
- Watershed: 1.25mi^2.
Park at the St. Cloud Day Use Area just off Hwy 14 near milepost 30. There are restrooms at the trailhead.
From the parking area, walk back up the entry drive, and cross the RR tracks and Hwy 14. Pick up the trail on the far side. Cross Gable Creek, then follow the trail to Archer Creek. The trail switchbacks up and, after about 10min of hiking, reaches a junction with a view of the big falls. This is the checkpoint on the flow.
If the flow looks good, continue on up the trail through several switchbacks until the trail reaches the rim. Ignore the first faint path going left (dead end) and take the second. Follow it down into a stand of large Doug Fir trees that escaped the loggers, then down to meet the creek. Just downstream is the top of R1 behind a giant car-sized boulder.
- R1: Middle Archer Falls - 20ft from a log. Beware body-width crack DCL which might be a possible entrapment hazard.
Below the falls, thrash downstream through the jungle. Takes about 5min to the next drop. Creek can be quite slippery.
Lower Archer Falls (R2 - R4). Rappelling R2 commits you to the rest of the descent.
- R2: 20ft from pinch under a rock DCL that's set back 10ft from the drop.
- R3: 15ft from a log. As of 2023, there was a log in the middle of this drop, and several more in the chest-deep pool below.
- R4: 60ft. Rappel either side of the falls. DCL has more flow, but beware logs in the drop which could be problematic for a rappeller. There's also one potential entrapment hazard close to the bottom near the center. DCR has less flow. Other hazards:
- Beware loose rock on this falls. Tread lightly.
- Update 2023: use caution as the large log used as an anchor has noticeable cracks in it and may no longer be entirely safe. This drop is a good candidate for bolting.
At the bottom of the falls, there's easy exit up DCL to the trail. Return the way you came.
A NW Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
Trip reports and media
Lower Archer was first descended by Kevin Clark, Wade Hewitt, and Andy Sorenson in December 2019.
Several miles upstream is a much larger waterfall (aka Upper Archer Falls, Columbia Falls, or Fortress Falls), but the valley below the falls is closed to public entry to protect endangered species.