Welcome back to our blog!
This week’s adventure was to Bridal Veil waterfall in Oregon’s beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Since the meteorologists were forecasting rain to move in around midday we got up early, 4 a.m. to be exact, so we could arrive early and have time to hike and take pictures without hurrying. The trail is less than two miles and we did manage to do all that we wanted to do just in time. The rain started just as we were making our way to the parking lot!
We tried to get there as close to 6:30 a.m. as possible since that is when the sun was scheduled to rise. We didn’t leave quite as early as we had hoped, however, it turned out to be a moot point because by the time we arrived the clouds had begun to roll in promising that the forecast rain was, indeed, on its way.
A sign at the beginning of the trailhead points two ways. One path leads to an overlook but we followed the path to the falls with the intention of visiting the overlook on our way back. The hike was relatively short and easy. There is a section of stairs with a sturdy handrail to help one down a steep part. I always forget, though, that what one goes down one must go up on the way back! We finally crossed a bridge taking us across the Bridal Veil creek and we noticed this:
This is one of those times you scratch your head and think, “huh?” Would love to know the story.
Before going to the waterfall we wandered downstream to find a safe spot to set up the tripod in order to get a picture of the bridge. Curt found a place with a good view of the bridge and the creek and took a long exposure photo which came out beautifully.
He looked down and saw this:
Good thing he didn’t go closer to the water.
At this time of day there were no other visitors around. It was very quiet. All we could hear was the rushing of the creek and the roar of the waterfall further up the trail. Peaceful. We saw no other human until we were almost back to the parking lot. Probably one of the most enjoyable hikes we’ve made for those reasons.
As we made our way up to the waterfall, Curt decided to take a photo of me, from behind, walking the trail. Definitely not my best side! Thanks, honey!
We came to a dirt step enforced with rock. Laying on one of the moss covered rocks happened to be a clump of small pine cones. The green of the moss on the rock gave a nice contrast to the brown of the pine cones. They must have fallen from one of the trees overhanging the path but I thought they were cute because of their small size.
The path ends at a viewing deck overlooking the falls but we stopped a little further down to take some photos from other angles of the waterfall. They are quite beautiful. Curt was very happy with them.
We finally made our way to the platform to view the waterfall. He didn’t have much trouble with mist on the lens, which meant he didn’t have to constantly stop and mop the lens with a cloth. The foliage in the surrounding area was a bit sparse since this is wintertime, but this is Oregon after all, so there was still plenty of greenery to enhance the waterfall.
When Curt was satisfied at the viewing deck we decided to go back down the path beside the creek. We were doing good on time and had seen no other people thus far. We walked until the path ended and we could go no further. We were about ready to turn back when we noticed the remains of an old building. Curt snapped a shot from where we were at the end of the trail but I noticed another path up to a closed gate and suggested we see if the vantage point would be better from there, which it was. He set up his tripod to take a photo from the gate. While he busied himself with the camera I explored our surroundings and I could hear the sound of cars driving by as well as the whistle of a train. I was surprised to see how close we were to I-84 and the train tracks that ran between us and the Interstate. Several trains, traveling both ways, went by while we were there. It was somewhat of a contrast, the highway and tracks set against the beauty and serenity of the waterfall and the creek. Just goes to show that one never knows where beauty lies.
The building ruins don’t very well depict the purpose, and it’s a bit overgrown by brush but we found it interesting. Of course we were curious about it’s history which I will explain later.
Once that was done we hiked back down the path until we reached the bridge again where we decided was a perfect spot for our obligatory selfie we take to commemorate each outing. And here we are:
At this point we decided to head back toward the parking area and take the other trail to the overlook. Remember the stairs I mentioned earlier? Well, they are more fun going down than up.
When we stopped at the top of the stairs to catch our breath we scanned the area and were surprised when we saw another abandoned building not far from the one Curt photographed when we were down by the creek. This one was more intact than the other although covered in graffiti. We believed the buildings were probably part of a once operational mill. Our suspicions were later confirmed.
We found our way back to the trailhead where the two paths intersect. There are also bathroom facilities available at the trailhead which I visited once we reached them. While I was inside Curt occupied himself by exploring the grounds near the bathrooms and he found this small patch of flowers. They were a bit wilted. Trillium is supposed to grow in the area but we were unable to definitively determine if these were Trillium.
We followed the path to what the sign noted as the overlook. Shortly we had a nice view of the Columbia River but the trail went left and not straight to the fence. There were several picnic tables sitting on a grassy field and we determined that must be a picnic area. Definitely would be a great place to eat lunch while enjoying the fantastic view of the Columbia River. While the view is fantastic there trying to take a photo was impossible because there was no way to get the river without having the highway in the picture. We moved on down the trail to see if another spot would offer a better vantage point.
Remember the two abandoned buildings mentioned earlier? There was a sign stationed along the overlook path that gave information about it. The Bridal Veil mill became operational in the 1880s but was abandoned after the mill was destroyed by fire in 1937. The larger building was the mill itself but there is no ready information stating what purpose the other building served. Other signs are positioned along the overlook trail as well. One sign offers information about the steamboat era on the Columbia River while another describes how the railroad progressed over time and how much the railroad was affected by unstable snowpack. A large section of railway as well as an entire town was wiped out by an avalanche decades ago. More than 100 people were swept away on the train by the avalanche. Still another sign describes the advent of the car and building roads through the Columbia Gorge. According to the sign when the Historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway was opened in 1915 it was the first paved road in the Pacific Northwest. I love history so I’m fascinated by this kind of information.
Curt did finally find a spot at the overlook where he could get a picture of the Columbia River minus the highway.
This concluded our visit as it began to pour down rain. We thought about the gentleman we passed earlier when we returned from the waterfall. He had no rain gear and had a camera and tripod in tow. We hope he made it back without damage to his equipment.