Sunday, January 15, 2023

Hike: Nesmith Point Trail, Upper & Lower McCord Creek, Warrenton, OR

Nesmith Point Trail #428

Getting There

Take I-84 East into the Columbia River Gorge. Take Exit 35. Follow NE Frontage Road for 4mi to the trailhead parking lot.

It's located about 6 miles east of Multnomah Falls and about 6.5 miles to Cascade Locks + Bridge of the Gods.

I knew when I left the house that I was in for some rainy hiking conditions, wherever I chose to go. I looked at the forecast for the area, it was rain, rain, rain and some wind. Fortunately, the temperatures were in the mid-40s.

I did some research and found a hike I'd never heard of, Nesmith Point, above Elwah Falls & McCord Creek Falls. I'd done the falls hike years ago. When I've driven by this trailhead in the summer, the parking lot is usually full.

On a rainy January, I was one of 3 cars.

The Hike

Length: 8.46 mi
Elev. gain: 2,077 ft
Moving time: 3:17:26
Total time: 3:20:14
Avg pace: 23:21
Calories: 1,985

Steps: 19,671
Floors: 198
Cals: 3,121
Zone Minutes: 73 (Fat Burn),
                      12 (Cardio/Peak)

I had my sights on Nesmith Point but thought it looked like a longer hike than I had time for and energy. I just wanted to take a look and see how far I could get before I needed to start my descent.

It was smooth sailing for the first 1 1/2 miles. You zigzag through some trees but reach an area where you cross a boulder field twice and hike along steep hillsides under huge rocky overhangs. I started to get into more snow covering the trail.

I realized about 1/2 way that I'd left my microspikes in the car! dammit! I remembered packing them but never putting them in my pack. D'oh. Where I turned around, it was steep and I wouldn't have had a good time with only my boots & poles. I was sure to encounter more snow so even if I'd made it through that section, I wouldn't get much further.

Good thing because looking at the 3D map, it's a steep trail, even with the switchbacks. It does look like it levels off and the approach to the viewpoint follows the ridgeline.

I started my descent. I knew I had more daylight so figured I'd explore McCord Creeks (Elowah Falls, Upper McCord Creek Falls). 

I went to the end of the upper falls trail. Then, back down to the lower falls trails. Looks like there used to be a bridge so you could keep going east.

I hiked back to the parking lot, then walked the frontage road to the Gorge Trail #400. I was pretty overgrown but still not bad to follow.

I crossed a sketchy section where the cliff had eroded. I hesitated but went anyway. Some butterflies.

I followed this trail all the way to the falls, and the other side of where the bridge was supposed to go. It was smashed up but a recognizable section.

On the way back, I got nervous again going through this section. I held onto some branches and squeezed by. Whew!

I was bumbling along back to the frontage road. I wasn't thinking and slipped on some roots and ended up on the ground. Yikes! I was getting a bit complacent on the easy terrain. I'd been so careful up to now.

Reminded me of that fall on the Mineral Creek Trail near Kachess Lake. I wasn't being careful. Gotta respect the trail and remember there's probably not going to be anyone to get me out.

AllTrails map

Elowah Falls

Upper McCord Creek Falls

Lower McCord Creek Falls

Hamilton Mountain from Oregon

Top of my hike up Nesmith Point trail #428

Top of my hike up Nesmith Point trail #428
AllTrails map