Get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget! A mere mile up unassuming Palmer Mill Road lies one of the most spectacular falls in the whole Columbia River Gorge. Here, Bridal Veil Creek truly “veils” out over a massive wall of basalt, plunging nearly one hundred feet into a moss draped amphitheater.
Despite its close proximity to famous, easy-two-access falls like Latourell and Bridal Veil, Upper Bridal Veil Falls receives a fraction of the visitors. This is most likely due to the intense, unmarked, Indiana Jones-esque scramble to reach it. Those who complete this hike will get dirty, muddy and wet for sure, but the challenge is by all means worth it.
It is not easy to find the trailhead because there is none. Park a mile up Palmer Mill Road and pick up a spur trail heading down into the canyon. This “trail” branches off shortly after the road crosses a small stream. Do not attempt any of the possible routes further up the canyon. The cliffs are far too steep. After meandering in the woods for a short distance, the trail immediately dips into the canyon. Conveniently placed ropes help at the beginning but the route gets steeper and steeper as you approach the creek. Take it slow on this section, as the terrain is crumbly. There are, however, things to hold on to. Once down at the creek, it is a fairly easy walk upstream to the falls; which should be plainly visible from where the trail ends up.
Upper Bridal Veil falls is a stunner, gracefully plunging over a sheer cliff wall. Awe inspiring close up views can be seen on both sides of the creek although one will have to cross the stream to get right up to the falls. This is not advisable in the winter and spring months as the water will be too forceful. Standing directly in front of this falls is a truly humbling experience. The wall of water pours like a deafening hurricane. You’ll be soaked in seconds, as I was. For a drier view, there are several nice flat areas farther from the falls to sit an enjoy the shag.
Driving Directions: Heading east on I-84, take exit 28 to Bridal Veil (28 miles east of Portland). Drive west on the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Hwy for 0.5 miles and turn left onto Palmer Mill Road. Continue uphill for 1.0 miles and park in a turnout just before a stream crossing. The dirt road is steep but passible.