Cape Horn Falls
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Raps:3-4, max ↨230ft
Red Tape:No permit required
21 Jan 2023
"Great day to open up Cape Horn. Be weary of loose rocks and people below R2. We had a person taking photos below who was able to help with this hazard
Anytime EXCEPT Feb-Jun
One of the first major waterfalls on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, Cape Horn Falls plunges down a series of majestic cliffs.
- Please see Red Tape below. This area (both trail and falls) is closed for peregrine falcon nesting from Feb 1 through July 15 (inclusive).
- Be aware: during the winter/spring when the Columbia River is running high, a packraft or other watercraft may be required for the exit. If the river is running too high, it's possible to exit via the trail after R2.
Park at the upper TH. This is closest to the viewpoint. Take the trail and eventually turn left to the trails that goes towards the creek. Find a good place to enter the creek.
R1 - 50’ off of a small tree near the lip of the falls. Possibly downclimbable.
R2- 150’ from a tree DCR. It may be possible to find an anchor situation DCL. Either way, it is very brushy and lots of loose rocks. Would be a good idea to make sure no one is below standing on the bridge.
R3 - 230’ from a tree bunch DCL. Be sure to look at the shore to determine how your exit. We brought packrafts. If the water is low enough in the Columbia, then you could walk along the edge eastbound. You do want to stay in the forest once you are able to avoid private property..
When the Columbia River is running high (winter/spring), there may not be an option to exit without a packraft or other watercraft. Exiting this way may be best on a calm day as the river just off Cape Horn is renowned for high winds. Reportedly strong currents can also be an issue.
If you have a pack raft, you can go upstream or downstream. The downstream situation is a half mile float, cross the tracks, and a 200ft climb through the blackberry bushes back to the Cape Horn Trail. If you go upstream, paddle about 500ft, cross the tracks, then ascend 200ft up into the forest. Make sure to stay off private land. You can hike the trail back or use the paved road to get out.
- Be aware that walking on the tracks is trespassing, so make your crossing short & sweet. Trains come barreling through here at 60mph with little-to-no warning, so this is not a good place to linger. Stay out of the tunnel.
From Feb 1 - Jul 15th, the lower trail is closed for falcon nesting season. Effectively, this means the falls are closed then too.
Trip reports and media
- June 30 2017 Drone Footage
First descended by Haruka James Clay Lipscomb, Michael Peterson, Tristan Burnham, and Ryan Ernst.
Special thanks to Luca for the drone footage and to Bryan Swan for helpful beta.