In Search of Chush Falls

Emma gives no fucks about Chush Falls

With less than sixty seconds of research last weekend we decided to visit Chush Falls: a 200’ waterfall with an easy trail and possible fishing on Whychus Creek along the way.

In a serious rookie move, we asked google maps for directions which most definitely were wrong. By the time we realized this we were well out of cell coverage and couldn’t determine which forest road might take us to the trailhead. But where we were looked pretty, so we set off down a barely visible double-track on a hillside of wildflowers and charred, fallen down trees. The track disappeared quickly, but we bushwhacked and log-hopped until we heard water. We peered down a steep, rugged hill, crisscrossed with fallen logs and saw a waterfall below. Upper, upper Chush Falls?

Snow Creek

We were not on Whychus Creek, but Snow Creek, it turns out, which runs parallel to Whychus. It’s small but moving a lot of water, so we dropped in a Parachute Adams. (Literally… with all the fallen trees, I don’t recommend casting.) Maybe there are fish, but we didn’t see any, though Emma and Mack were very thorough in crossing through every pool. We scrambled upstream until we found a lovely view of the Sisters. Then scrambled downstream until we were tired, scratched, scraped, and bruised. Luckily there was cold beer waiting in the truck.

Trail Running Whychus Creek

As a sort of redemption, the next day I drove to a very obvious trailhead off the pavement and ran down to and along Whychus Creek. It flows over snags and falls with lovely pools in between. I ran upstream and hooked into the Metolius-Windigo trail where I cleaned all the spider webs that were strung across the trail. Not sure how to explain the lack of popularity of the Metolius-Windigo. It is 140 miles long, and I can only assume that there are loads of people on it somewhere… but I’ve been on a few sections and never seen anyone or anything. And sometimes can barely see the trail.

A waterfall on Wychus Creek
Wychus Creek, but not Chush Falls

Chush Falls, Take Two

Loaded with directions, water, and a walking stick we headed back to Chush Falls for another shot. We found the trailhead easily! We filled out our free wilderness pass! We headed down the trail and after walking for a quarter of a mile Emma stepped gently off the trail and sat down next to some lupine. She was not going for a hike. She was on strike.

So RK carried her back to the truck, and we drove to the bridge that crosses Whychus Creek. There is an excellent pool tucked into the rushing rapids. RK caught a decent sized red band trout, the dogs cooled down, and I drank a beer and watched the crazy butterflies swarm around the creek.

The search for Chush Falls is taking us into some beautiful parts of the mountains, and fortunately, we are not goal-oriented people. Leash rules go into effect on that trail July 15, but maybe we will try again in September.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA