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?

Support

Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.

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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.

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