Carcus Creek Falls

Carcus Creek Falls waterfall columbia county oregon
Carcus Creek Falls in early May

Height and type: 100+ foot plunge falls.

Water body: Carcus Creek, a tributary of the Clatskanie River.

Access: There is no direct route accessible to the public. We reached it via 6 miles of hiking on logging roads with a significant amount of off-road bushwacking to make connections, but the route is extremely roundabout. Do not attempt unless you are with a partner, have good maps that show where walk-in access is allowed, and are experienced in off-trail navigation. Reaching the falls themselves requires traveling down steep slopes and needs to be done with the utmost care. Falling is distinctly possible and would have major negative consequences due to the height of the drops, remoteness of the region, and distance from cell phone reception.

Trip Reports: The Hidden Carcus Creek Falls (August visit)
Youtube video of herping expedition to Carcus Creek Falls (May visit)

Property status: The falls are owned by Columbia County Parks, but the surrounding area is private timberland.

Notable Wildlife: Pacific jumping mouse, black bear, sculpins, coho salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, stream amphibians

Interesting History: Carcus Creek supposedly got its name when residents found a dead horse on its bank.

Carcus Creek is critical habitat for Coho Salmon, Steelhead, and Cutthroat Trout. The Carcus Creek Falls are also designated a “scenic resource” of Columbia County. Columbia County’s 1984 comprehensive plan (still integrated though at least 2011) states:

Carcus Creek Falls, Lava Creek Falls, and the Clatskanie River-Apiary Falls to Carcus Creek are presently undeveloped privately held scenic resources. There is no present public access to these areas. Consequently, their social value is limited. However, these scenic sites could potentially be made more accessible to the public in the future. For example, a trail system could be developed up Carcus Creek to Carcus Creek Falls and Lava Creek Falls, assuming an easement along the creeks can first be obtained from the landowners. Potential also exists to connect these scenic sites with a 280-acre tract of County-owned land situated within ½ mile of both falls. The falls are rare features whose value lies primarily in their aesthetic appearance. Allowing conflicting uses could have serious social and environmental consequences.

Our surveys have found these falls and stream have significant biodiversity value for the county and in our view are a top-5 priority for preservation.

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