Gorton Creek Trail to Rainy Lake is a 10.8 mile point-to-point trail located near Cascade Locks, OR and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from May until October.
Shorter route possible to Gorton Creek Falls: Trail leads directly away from the well marketed trailhead parking area. When the campground is closed, one must hike from the road through the campground following signs to trailhead. The trail parallels Gorton creek through a cool, tree-shaded glen, initially as a broad dirt road gradually narrowing to a comfortable trail. The trail crosses Trail #400 which crosses the creek on a bridge. Continuing along the creek, in little more than a quarter mile, you reach a narrow gap in a cliff through which the stream squeezes. A crude, old dam for fresh water is visible at this point. The real hike begins here! To the falls, one must find one's own way by negotiating boulders, logs, sliding hillsides and crisscrossing the creek. There is no trail and constantly changing hazards thanks to the annual extreme effects of water and slides.
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This trail is about a mile or so if you end at the 20 foot lower Gorton Creek Waterfall and even shorter if you stop at Emerald Falls. It starts off at Wyeth Campground and the trail is easy and paved dirt for most of the hike. The trail slowly disappears near Emerald Falls (series of mini falls with moss covered boulders) and you have to scramble up moss covered boulders and logs to the side of the creek to reach the waterfall. If you have sturdy shoes, the scramble is pretty easy during summer months when the water flow is low. If you want to reach the top of the falls (which is about a mile from the lower fall), there is a steep dirt paved path the left of the lower Gorton Creek fall.
Overall the hike is very beautiful and way less crowded than the other waterfall hikes near Portland, Oregon. If the water if deep enough (which it usually is) you can swim in the small pond that forms at the bottom of the lower falls. The water usually is freezing though-even in the summer. It's dog friendly, but the climb from Emerald falls along the creek would be difficult for short-legged dogs.