Lava Creek Falls

Lava Creek Falls waterfall apiary vernonia mist columbia county northwest oregon
Lava Creek Falls in winter (photo courtesy of Doug Hecker)

Height and type: A 108-foot horsetail falls. There is a second, small creek waterfall present on the side.

Water body: Lava Creek, a tributary of Carcus Creek which itself eventually flows into the Clatskanie River.

Access: There is no direct route accessible to the public. We reached it via 6 miles of hiking on Bascom Pacific and Weyerhaeuser logging roads with a significant amount of off-road bushwacking to make connections. Do not attempt unless you are with a partner, have good maps, and are experienced in off-trail navigation. Reaching the falls themselves requires traveling down steep game trails 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.

Property status: Weyerhaeuser land. You cannot go here without a Weyerhaeuser permit for the region.

Notable Wildlife: pacific jumping mouse, sculpins, stream amphibians

Interesting History: Lava Creek Falls is considered a “scenic resource” of Columbia County, and various suggestions have been made to develop it for recreational use. 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.

We can add that our surveys have found these falls and stream have immense biodiversity value for the region and in our view are a top-5 priority for preservation in the county.

Back to Waterfalls of Northwest Oregon

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