Exploring Cathedral Falls

Steve strikes out with a couple of colleagues to search for the massive and equally impressive Catherdal Falls in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Cathedral Falls

Despite having recently camp on our survey beach (see A New Twist to Our Toleak Survey), I was still feeling a bit ‘couped up’. With the parts to raise our trailer still delayed and our Pacific Northwest winter truly upon us, Theresa decided to sit this one out. She’s as stuff as they come, but has grown accustomed to returning to a warm, dry refuge at the end of the day; as I have I. Still I needed some get back out in the wild places and set my eyes on visiting Cathedral Falls.

Cathedral Falls is a lofty plunging waterfall along an unnamed tributary of Goat Creek in an isolated corner of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The falls launch 248 feet over a massive overhang then veils across a strange cone-shaped protrusion of bedrock that forces the water to veil down in a subtle swooshing shape. The formation of the cone at the base of the falls is rather puzzling, as it doesn’t appear to be the result of minerals accumulating from the falling water. More likely the falls have simply pounded down onto a much more rugged outcrop of rock that was disconnected from the now overhanging cliffs above, and have slowly worn it into a rounded shape over time.

Cathedral Falls
A shot of Cathedral Falls from the base. Unfortunately, this photograph doesn't really show the scale of the falls as it's close to 250' in height.

Taidnapam Campground

The park which is owned and managed by Tacoma Power is really quite the campground. Seems like they have a bit more funds to throw at their facilities than Washington State. I had been here once before but that was during the summer when there was a large contingent of campers. I think it has even more charm in the winter.

I had reached out to a couple of photographer buddies to see if they wanted to join and both Brad and Matt agreed. Brad and I were camping for the weekend with Matt meeting up with us on the morning of the hike.

It was cold during the long night’s but Brad’s cooking more than made up for any inconvenience the temperature threw at us. It’s always good to have friends who are accomplished cooks! Freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning followed by steaks in a honey-mustard sauce that night. What’s a little cold weather?

Our volunteers collected water quality data from 128 Wild and Scenic Rivers, enabling federal and state agencies to improve accountability and inform river policy, protection, and management decisions.

Our Timber Tracking volunteers collected samples from 787 locations (and counting!) across the range of eastern black walnut, enabling the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service to combat illegal logging.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration incorporated our microplastics data into their global marine microplastics dataset. 

advertisement

twitter feed

Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

And please, feel free to join in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well. 

Member of the following

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

Latest Instagram

Sunset over James Island on the Washington Coast. Looking forward to getting out there this month for our #COASST survey ...

This fountain is often thought to portray Venus, the Roman goddess of love, or Galatea, a sea nymph from Greek mythology. In 1893 the statue first appeared at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago's German Pavilion. ...

It’s been awhile but we’re here on Marrowstone Island for a little winter camping. ...

Historic High Rock Lookout with Mt Rainier in the background. It's a bit of a steep hike to get here, but so worth the effort. ...

A shot from above of Iron Creek waterfall located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. ...

With all the sub-freezing weather and snow we've had lately, I'm missing my Costa Rica and our encounters with White-faced Capuchins in Manuel Antion National Park. They did everything they could to liberate us from our lunch. It was certainly touch-and-go! ...

After four days of below-freezing weather, our local lake is starting to show signs of cold weather. ...

Just published our latest adventure - " WSR Winter Collection" - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

The Suiattle River during our last Wild and Scenic River fieldwork. The snow made for a beautiful backdrop and it also made for cold hands during the river sampling. ...

On the Suiattle River collecting data for the Wild and Scenic River project. The snow made for a very picturesque scenic but the cold temperatures were a little hard on the hands. 🙂 ...

The sun made a short appearance this weekend just while we were exploring North Cove. This place has the dubious distinction of losing the most coastline in the US. On average 150' per year. They've lost neighborhoods, hotels, cemeteries, and a lighthouse. ...

Just published our latest adventure - " Returning to La Push for Surveys" - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

A rare clear evening out on Washington's coast. The Olympic National Park has miles of coastline to enjoy. ...

Enjoying a bit of warmth on a cold clear winter's evening on the Olympic Coast. We don't get many days like this in the winter. ...

Setting up camp at Toleak Beach on the Washington coast. We took advantage of the clear but cold winter weather and hiked in the day before our #COASST bird survey. ...

Snug Harbor Cannery on the southern half of Chisik Island. I spent a few years guiding out of the Alaskan treasure. ...

Goat Creek Trail

It’s a short drive up an old logging trail to the Goat Creek Trail which is about 10 miles long. Cathedral Falls is only a mile in, and the entire trail is just one beautiful vista after another. I’ve never seen such beautiful views for such a relatively easy hike.

In other words, I’ve worked a whole lot harder for a whole lot less pay off.

Along the way, there are plenty of unnamed falls to photograph, and at one point you get a stunning view of some rapids on Goat Creek itself.

Personally, I had a hard time coming up with a photograph that I felt did the Cathedral Falls justice. They are much more impressive than my photograph capture. Matt did the best job of capturing them and he has a couple of his photographs posted on his website. Be sure to scale towards the bottom where you’ll see me on the trail just coming out from behind the falls. It truly gives you a sense of the scale of this feature.

If you’re in the area, it well worth the time to head out and explore this area. I’ll be taking Theresa back as soon as the trailer gets released.

Please share this:

More to explore

Lake Cushman
Journal

Lake Cushman in the Winter

This isn’t a natural lake but was created back in 1926 when the Cushman Dam No. 1 was built by Tacoma Power. It’s an impressive dam 275’ high and over 1100’ long.

Read More »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.