Trail of the Week: Angel and Curtain Falls near Cispus

Hikers can get behind Curtain Falls near the Cispus Learning Center in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Hikers can get behind Curtain Falls near the Cispus Learning Center in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Angel and Curtain Falls

Hike description: Walking along Covell Creek in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, it’s easy to see how Curtain Falls gets its name.

When the 75-foot falls come into view, the trail dips toward the cascade, then travels behind the Curtain Falls. The falls aren’t currently flowing with enough volume to create a curtain of water large enough to hide behind, but you get the idea.

This charming spot is a 1.2-mile uphill walk on a trail lined by Douglas fir, western red cedar, hemlock and other trees. The trail starts at the Cispus Learning Center southeast of Randle.

Those who pass under the falls will find that the trail will start demanding a little more from their legs. The trail climbs almost 400 feet in less than a half mile before continuing to Angel Falls. During our Aug. 12 visit, 175-foot Angel Falls were flowing at a less than dramatic volume.

From here, the trail loops back toward Curtain Falls. However, hikers should be warned that the trail sign pointing to the correct path is damaged. Make a left here. After looping back to Curtain Falls, return to the learning center the way you came. The trip can be extended by following the steep Burley Mountain Trail off the Angel Falls Loop.

Directions: From Randle, drive south on state Route 131 for a mile and turn left on Forest Road 23 and drive 8 miles to Cispus Road. Turn right and follow the road to the Cispus Learning Center. The learning center typically allows parking near the entrance of the facility, but check with the office for the best place to park during your visit.

Difficulty rating: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest)

Miles round trip: 3.5

Elevation gain: 1,000 feet

Best time of the year: April-November

Map: Green Trails 333: McCoy Peak. A basic map is available at the Cispus Learning Center headquarters.

Pass: Northwest Forest Pass.

Also: A 0.6-mile Braille trail nature loop is located near the start of this hike as is the 1.25-mile Covell Creek Trail. The Cispus Learning Center is on the site of an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp. It is run by the Association of Washington School Principals and hosts youth leadership and educational camps. Dogs on leashes are permitted on the trail. A geocache is hidden along the trail. Find information at geocaching.com.

Info: bit.ly/2aGKhp8

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497