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Must-Visit Waterfalls on the West Coast

May 11, 2021

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There’s no denying the magic of a waterfall. They’re beautiful, they’re powerful, and each one is majestic and unique. Fortunately, the West Coast has hundreds of insanely gorgeous waterfalls. Thanks to our glorious mountain ranges, drastic landscapes, and ever-changing weather—the West Coast is basically primed for the most epic waterfalls on the continent.

With so many insanely cool waterfalls in California, Oregon, and Washington, it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth a visit. Do you want to hike to one? Drive? Swim underneath one? Luckily for you, we’ve already done the groundwork. Here are 7 of the most beautiful waterfalls that you need to put on your West Coast must-do list.

 


Cedar Creek Falls, Ramona, California

Known as one of San Diego’s most famous waterfall hikes, Cedar Creek Falls is popular for a reason. The spectacular waterfall plunges 80 to 90 feet into a pool of water below—however, you’ll want to make sure that you visit during the winter as the falls are dry during the summer months. Getting to the falls is no easy task, the 6.6-mile round-trip hike is a bit strenuous and the entire journey can take nearly 6 hours. However, the reward is totally worth it.

Along the Cedar Creek Falls Trail in Ramona, California

 


Latourell Falls, Corbett, Oregon

Located in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge that creates the border between Oregon and Washington, Latourell Falls is one of those waterfalls that look straight out of a fairy tale. Most people visit the popular Multnomah Falls down the highway, however, Latourell Falls is a hidden gem worth visiting. Take a short walk from the parking lot and you’ll reach the waterfall viewpoint. If you want to get up close and personal with the cascading falls, you can walk right up to the small pool. Be warned—you will get wet.

 


Loowit Falls, Mt. St. Helens, Washington

As if waterfalls weren’t impressive enough—how about one located in the crater of a volcano? The explosion of Mount St. Helens back in 1980 created a giant landslide on the side of the volcano, completely changing its landscape, creating lakes, filling valleys, and decimating forests. One of the natural features that came of the massive change in landscape is Loowit Falls. The 8.5-mile hike takes you through the blast zone, walking through other-worldly territory with incredible views. The 186-foot falls flow directly from the crater and are in a constant state of change. In fact, it might completely disappear, so make sure to plan your trip soon.

Loowit Falls Trail at Mt. St. Helens, WashingtonPhoto Credit: Jeff Hollett / Flickr

 


Horsetail Falls, Yosemite, California

Horsetail Falls is not your average waterfall. Yosemite National Park is known for many glorious falls, however, it’s Horsetail Falls that takes the cake. Earning the nickname of Lavafall, if you visit Horsetail Falls in mid-February, you’ll be privy to witness one of nature’s greatest phenomena. When the sun starts to set, the reflection of the sunlight on the water turns the falls into a glowing orange-red hue. The 4-mile out-and-back trail is difficult but you’ll most certainly make some unforgettable memories.

Horsetail Falls in Yosemite National Park
Photo Credit: Matthew Dillon / Flickr

 


Palouse Falls, Lacrosse, Washington

Boasting an impressive 198-foot drop, Palouse Falls is super easy to get to and provides spectacular views of the cascade and surrounding dramatic landscape. Dropping into a stunning canyon, Palouse Falls isn’t the easiest place to get to, however, there are campsites nearby where you can post up for the night or weekend. Be careful, though! There are no fences bordering the steep cliffs, so watch your step when you’re taking those selfies.

Palouse Falls in Lacrosse, Washington
Photo Credit: Artodidact / Pixabay

 


Silver Falls, Stayton, Oregon

What’s better than one waterfall? How about a collection of ten of them on the same trail? Located in Silver Falls State Park, the Trail of 10 Falls takes you along a forested and scenic trail that lets you explore some of Oregon’s best waterfalls and swimming holes. You’ll want to start at the North Falls Trailhead where you’ll first encounter the 177-foot South Falls. Continue walking the trail where a new set of falls seems to pop up around every corner. Your hike will end at the jaw-dropping 136-foot North Falls. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit so you can cool off at one of the many swimming spots along the way.

 


Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

One of only two “tidefalls” in California, Alamere Falls is a dramatic waterfall that flows directly into the ocean (the other being McWay Falls). Plummeting nearly 40-feet, Alamere Falls can be accessed via a 13.8-mile out-and-back trail starting at the Palomarin Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore. Thanks to the mild weather in the area, the falls flow year-round, however, if you want to see the falls at their fullest—visit during winter or spring after heavy rains. On a clear day, you not only get insane views of the falls, but you can also see the Farallon Islands in the distance.

Alamere Falls at Point Reyes National Seashore
Photo Credit: Marc Tarlock / Flickr

Written by Ashley Brewer for Knockaround.

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