Columbia River Gorge - Panther Creek Falls
Panther Creek Falls at Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge changed dramatically due to a human-caused wildfire last fall. Eagle Creek Wildfire burned for three months and destroyed large parts of what used to be one of the most beautiful rainforests in the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 50.000 acres (200 km²) of lush green recreation area is surely lost for decades now. This blog shows some devastating images: e.g. of the Triple Falls area (part 1) and of Metlako Falls etc. (part 2). Besides that a larger cliff collapsed at Punchbowl Falls recently, also located along Eagle Creek (images). The 15-year old responsible for this whole tragedy was sentenced last month to a $36,6 million fine and 1.920 hours community service work.
Still intact remains the Washington side of the Gorge north of Columbia River, where this image of Panther Creek Falls was taken 6 years ago during our spring tour in the Pacific Northwest. It is a lovely waterfall in Gifford Pinchot National Forest that can be easily accessed by following Wind River Road from the town of Carson to the north. Make a right on Old State Road (about 5,8 mi from Hwy 14; also signed for Panther Creek campground) and immediately a left on National Forest Road #65 (Panther Creek Road). After another 7,4 mi stop on the right hand side where the road widens up a little bit under a rocky slope (we saw a lot of picas there!).
The short access trail to the wooden viewing platform starts across the road from parking pull-out, about 30 yards/meters back (unsigned when we were there!). That's where you'll see Panther Creek Falls from above with the two streams merging together. A short but steep path brings you down to the bottom of the falls, where this month's image was taken. If you feel adventurous you can climb even further down along Panther Creek where you will soon find another beautiful, although much smaller waterfall. This hidden gem is sometimes referred as Lower Panther Creek Falls. But please take caution if you decide to scramble down there, it can be pretty muddy and slippery.
Image data: 1 s at f/16, ISO 100; Canon EF 16-35mm 1:2.8 L II USM at 17 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark II