Whychus Creek waterfalls and beyond

Greg and I went camping at Three Creek Lake (near Sisters) last weekend. We hoped it would be cloudy enough so that we could visit the waterfalls along Whychus Creek and get some good photos. We almost got more than we bargained for. It rained so much Friday evening that when we arrived at the campground after dark, we had to wait in the car for an hour before the rain stopped enough for us to put up the tent. Sheesh.

Fortunately it did not rain on Saturday, though it was very very overcast. So he headed to the Whychus Creek trailhead. It’s not very far in terms of mileage, but we had to deal with the awful road coming out of Three Creek Lake and the equally awful road to the trailhead. We were in my little Honda Accord, and scraped bottom a few times, but the car seems to have come through okay! We saw a Trip Report describing other waterfalls in this area, so it was our goal to reach most or all of them on Saturday.

The trail to Chush Falls is short and easy. Of course, the “official trail” ends at this totally lame viewpoint of the waterfall.

To get down to the base, you have to scramble down the hill because the Forest Service couldn’t be bothered to build a trail down there. It’s worth the scramble though.

There are two more waterfalls upstream of here, again with no official trail to them. But there is a very nice unofficial trail. Very easy to follow and well-graded. Soon we came to The Cascades, which we photographed from the cliff above. Just below this waterfall is where Park Creek joins Whychus Creek. It’s along Park Creek that several of Bryan’s discovered waterfalls lie.

The unofficial trail ends at the base of a really impressive-looking waterfall: Upper Chush Falls. The rocky cliff area area around here doesn’t look like Oregon. Here is a shot of it with Greg in the frame for perspective.

We ate lunch there and then headed back downstream so we could cross Whychus Creek. The creek was just a tad too wide and deep for us to get across in our boots. There were no rocks sticking up on which to step. So we waded across in our sandals and then headed cross-country to find Park Creek.

We eventually found Park Creek and made our way down to it. Without a GPS, we weren’t sure if we were upstream or downstream of where we needed to be, so Greg did some scouting around. After awhile he spotted a waterfall upstream, came back for me and the gear, and we made our way to it. At first we thought it must be Howlaak Falls, but we compared it to the various Park Creek waterfall pictures from the waterfall website (we had printed out all the information) and realized it wasn’t any of the ones there visited.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a GPS, but we suspect that we were downstream of Howlaak Falls. Since we were running out of time, daylight, and energy, we did not look for any more of the Park Creek waterfalls, so we can’t be sure. But we’re going back again at some point with a GPS so that we can (hopefully) find and map this undiscovered waterfall and find the others too.

We spent a little time photographing the waterfall and then bushwhacked back cross-country to Whychus Creek. At some point, we discovered later, Greg lost one of his water bottles. Somewhere out there in the forest is a bright blue Nalgene that will slowly become a mossy part of the landscape. We waded across the creek and hiked back to the car. We hadn’t seen another soul all day, but saw at least three other sets of tire tracks at the trailhead that hadn’t been there in the morning.

Beautiful waterfalls out here! This was my first time bushwhacking, but with Greg’s help I did okay and I’m eager to go back and see the rest of the waterfalls in the area.