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Panther Creek Falls : Do You Think Anyone Would Mind if I Renamed a Waterfall?

Being new to the area it seems as if almost every time I venture out it is blog worthy – and my latest drive deep into the forest did not disappoint! I set out on a bright, crisp afternoon to find Panther Creek Falls. And although I found it – which I am about to detail – I honestly think it should be renamed Tinkerbelle Falls. Let me explain.washington waterfall hikes

I hopped in my trusty Jeep (because don’t you know if you are exploring wilderness it is best done in a Jeep!) and headed north from our Columbia Gorge Cabins on Wind River Road to the second Old State Road turnoff, just like Scott Cook’s Curious Gorge book instructed. I was looking for an obvious turnout, an old rock quarry that would serve not only as my parking place, but as my starting place for searching for the slightly elusive trail head to Panther Creek Falls. Well, to this flatlander (35 years in Kansas) and recent city-dweller (downtown Philadelphia) turned innkeeper in the PNW, every tiny little dirt spot began to look like a turnout and I was getting a bit discouraged.

Had I followed Cook’s very specific instructions to set my odometer and drive 7.2 miles on Panther Creek Road I am quite sure I would have driven to the exact spot – but I was too busy gawking at the neon green moss clinging to the trees (I had no idea that color even existed in nature), the sheer cliff’s dropping on either side of me and the occasional doe and her fawns frolicking ahead on the road. So, after a beautiful drive up the mountain I happened upon the obvious turnoff and parked. After a 50 yard jaunt back down the road from where I came, I saw it – the obscure, unmarked, and not any wider than a boogie board trail head appeared!

Off I went. Or rather, down I went. It was the most magical walk I have ever been on. As the sound of the nearby waterfall grew louder and more pronounced the rest of the world became quieter and faded away. The ground was gently covered with a carpet of fragrant fir needles. Heavy moss clung to every branch and tree trunk absorbing any sound as I crunched along the path. Skinny rays of sunshine made their way through the overhead canopy. And as I descended the path I just couldn’t help but think, “This is surely where Tinkerbelle and her cousins live when they are not spreading pixie dust.” The waterfall itself was breathtaking. And from the sturdy viewing platform opposite the falls I could see where it started, fell, stopped and traveled on down the stream. Pictures were easy to take and quite spectacular. I did not see one other person while I was there.

So, if you want a magical, hard to find, out of the way, it doesn’t get any better than this waterfall excursion on your next visit Carson Ridge Cabins- this is it! And do me a favor and tell Tinkerbelle I said hi.

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