After a long break from camping and hiking, I finally got a chance to get out for a good hike.  I met up with Steve over at Essex Media & Explorations and our friend Brad, to hike the Goat Creek Trail, in Gifford Pinchot National Forrest.  Steve and Brad camped the night before at Taidnapam Park, so I met them at their campsite and we road up to the trailhead.

Our goal was to visit and photograph a few waterfalls, primarily the Cathedral Falls and to just enjoy a nice day hike.  We got to the trailhead around 10:00am loaded up and headed out.  The Goat Creek trail is a really great trail.  I would rate it at a moderate 3 mile (out and back) trail, if your goal is to just hike up to the falls and turn back.  There are a lot of smaller waterfalls, around just about every bend.

Waterfall near Cathedral Falls
Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70, 28mm, 8 seconds, f13, 64-ISO

We walked at a leisurely pace, stopping at almost every waterfall for at least a quick snap or two.  The pace allowed for us to really take in the beauty of the trail and to catch up.  It’s been at least a year since the three of us have hiked together, so it was an enjoyable walk.  So much so, we weren’t prepared for what we saw, when we came around the final bend before Cathedral Falls. 

Cathedral Falls 12-20
Cathedral Falls - Nikon D850, Nikkor 20mm, 5 seconds, f16, 64-ISO

The Cathedral Falls, is an awe inspiring site.  A 248 foot drop in front of an amazing overhang.  The images we saw before coming out to the falls, couldn’t do it any justice.  You have to actually experience this in person, to really understand the size.  I took a quick iPhone shot, of Steve on the trail, just to try to show the scale of the waterfall. 

Cathedral Falls - iPhone 11 Pro Max, 2mm, 1/60 seconds, f2.4, 640-ISO

We spent at least a good hour at Cathedral Falls, taking pictures from different angles.  For all of it’s size and beauty, this is a very difficult waterfall to shoot.  I had to hike down to the bottom of the falls and photograph it from below, just to get the whole thing into a single frame.

What I didn’t realize while looking up at these falls for an hour, was the sheer size of the overhang.  One of the greatest things about this trail, is that it winds underneath the falls and the overhang.  Once we packed up and headed further up the trail, we got to see the real size of the overhang.  I snapped another quick iPhone shot, to show the scale of this overhang.  I don’t even think this photo could do the size justice. 

Cathedral Falls Overhang
Cathedral Falls Overhang - iPhone 11 Pro Max, 4mm, 1/47 seconds, f1.8, 500-ISO

We walked for a few more miles, checking out all of the great little falls and just enjoying the beauty of the Goat Creek Trail, but nothing compared to Cathedral Falls.  Due to it being winter, we knew that we were going to run out of daylight, way before we ran out of trail.  We got a lot of pictures, got a really good hike in but seeing the Cathedral Falls in person, will be a memory of a lifetime!

Goat Creek Falls
Goat Creek - Nikon D850, 66mm, 1/60 seconds, f2.8, 500-ISO

Overall, this was a great comeback hike.  I felt rejuvenated and ready to spend the Winter getting some great hikes in, preparing for the Spring.  Steve and I discussed summiting St Helens in the Summer and that is going to be a blast!  I’ll need to do quite a few more of these hikes, to condition for that one.  Stay tuned… 

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