Rustic Lens
Jeep Trailhawk forest

Elk Creek Falls – Elk River Idaho

I was trying to figure out a good adventure for my wife, daughter and I for a Saturday day trip when I remembered the waterfalls that we had tried to go to in the spring but I took a wrong turn at Orofino and we had explored the North Fork of the Clearwater river instead.  I looked up the Forest Service website to make sure I had the correct information this time.  The Forest Service site gives the following information:

“Just 50 miles east of Moscow, Idaho, visitors will find The Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area, home to the Elk Creek Falls National Recreation Trail, possessing the tallest waterfall in the state of Idaho. Three separate waterfalls totaling over 140 feet carve a beautiful canyon filled with mesmerizing columnar basaltic formations…with amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, pedestal grills and trailhead information all accessible by a developed Forest Service trail… Elk Creek Falls awaits you!”

I noticed that my mistake last time had been driving straight through Orofino instead of making a couple of turns to follow Dent Bridge road to Elk River.  We packed into my wife’s Trailhawk (which is awesome for any kind of offroading that we might encounter) and started out on the 2 1/2 hour drive.  After getting on Dent Bridge road, I was able to add a couple of shots to my Milepost Project.

milepost 13, road,trip
Mile 13 Dent Bridge Road
road trip milepost
Mile 23 Dent Bridge Road

I thought it was nice of the road crews to let me know where it was o.k. to drift, but my passengers didn’t think that was what the sign meant…

road sign slide area
Drifting Area

We discovered a really nice day use area with restrooms at Elk Creek Reservoir.  That’s where I snapped the shot of the Trailhawk in the header of this post.  Autumn was in the crisp air and the sun was filtering through the forest in such a beautiful way.  I also spotted some bright fall color across the reservoir.

fall color elk river idaho
Fall color at the reservoir.

After that stop we went through the small town of Elk River.  I am going to have to come back and explore it some more. I noticed a couple places to eat and a lodge that looked nice.  I followed the map from the forest service site and got onto the road that I thought was the correct one to go to the falls.  It got kinda skinny and then I spotted this tiny post that said “trail.” That’s not as descriptive as I had expected and Holly and Cassie were not real happy with me when we figured out it wasn’t the correct trail.  Well, it was the correct trail, but it was the wrong part of the trail.  We hiked about 1/2 mile each way and didn’t hear any water so we decided to drive farther and see if we could find the correct trail.

hiking trail
Wrong trail?

It wasn’t long before I saw a sign and arrow to Elk Creek Falls.  A couple miles later we started hiking the trail down to the falls.  It starts out on a nice wide path that is deceptively level before getting steeper and steeper downhill the closer you get to the falls.  Going downhill isn’t to hard, but I knew the girls were gonna kill me after hiking back out.  After my adventure hiking into Louie Lake, this trail didn’t scare me at all though.  We finally made it down to the viewpoint for the lower falls.  It’s an impressively powerful waterfall, but quite far away from the viewpoint.  Thank goodness for my Sony SEL24240 FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 Lens.

elk creek falls
Lower falls

Here is a 360 video that I took with the Ricoh Theta S 360 Camera.  For the best quality, make sure you click the little gear on the bottom right and change it to HD.

Of course I also used the ICE 10 stop ND filter to slow down the exposure and make the water all velvety.  The last couple of images are of the upper falls I believe.  We bypassed the middle falls trail.

elk creek falls
What a view!
elk creek falls idaho
A closer look.

We took a different route on the way home that went through Moscow.  Moscow Idaho not Russia.  I couldn’t even get lost that badly.

What was your last day trip adventure?  Comment below and share!


Evan Jones

I am a landscape and travel photographer who is drawn to old and rusty stuff as well as beautiful landscapes. I like to explore the backroads of the Northwest United States and anywhere else I can get to. My blog is at

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