I waded into the forests up Steamboat Creek and found a pretty cool waterfall, using lidar both at home and in the field.

I located this waterfall off WaterfallsNorthwest.com.  I check it every so often to see if Bryan has found any new waterfalls and this one popped up on his map.


I checked it out on Lidar and it looked like it was worth a shot.  For this post, I’m going to focus on comparing the lidar image of the map with what they look like in real life.  This should be a fun comparison.


That blue circle is the main waterfall and the destination for this trip.  The black arrow is about where I started.  I headed basically straight east down through that small creek until I hit the bigger creek.  I then headed north to the look for the blue circle.

Along that little creek, there were two red spots, which signify steep spots.  This means waterfalls.

Here’s the first red spot in real life:

This was a nice find and better than I was expecting.


While I expected this waterfall, I was thinking it was going to be smaller than the first, which I was able to easily climb down past.  Instead, I had a gaping hole and had to scoot around it and keep going down.


Not much going on looks-wise, for the trouble.


When I hit the main creek, I found the remnants of a small bird egg.

The creek wasn’t bad to move around on and it was fun but not beautiful.  Until I spotted this:

One of the more beautiful low-key spots I’ve found on these little creeks.  It’s just incredible.  Looking back, I should have spent more time here.


Because I’m a baby and don’t like getting water in my boots, nor do I like wading in bare feet (or bringing water shoes), I have to navigate these with some thought.  A steep, moss-covered wall on the left.  A doable line off to the right blocked by the creek (deeper than it looks here).  I was fairly certain that line to the right would lead to me slipping off those wet rocks into the pool.

So…convenient log-crossing it is…


For the record, this one was bobbing pretty good by this point.  I started to focus more heavily on where the end of this log was laying and how secure it actually would be by the time I got there.  As I got to that dangling tree limb, I had to push it out of the way while timing the bobs.  I because pretty worried about the log pushing off the rock and dumping me in the pool.  It was 4-5 feet deep and early January, so I did not fashion a swim.


Off the log, closer inspection, yeah, it would easily just slip off into the drink.  This hung in my mind later on when I decided whether I would use this route to get back to the car.


This is one of those nice little features that make waterfall hunting worthwhile.

What did it look like on lidar?


Not much.  A little ripple of red shows a slight drop, though if you zoom in, the pool just before it shows up clearly.  These are impossible to predict exactly what they will look like and that allows for nice surprises, even when you sort of know what’s coming.  And those surprises make the more difficult aspects of these treks worthwhile.


There was an ominous rock wall that ran most of the way along the creek, nearly out of vision.  I intermittently would pause and scan for caves, but didn’t see any.


The next place I found trouble was a pinch in the creek on a bend that left me without any good options.  The ground climbed way up and as a rule, I don’t like leaving the creek because sometimes you never make it back down.  There was a logjam (always risky) that was tough to climb onto and that I could see did not even reach the other side.  My third choice was to take my boots off and wade.

I didn’t like the look of the logjam and hate wading, so I climbed for a minute.


The rock I’d have to climb over. I need to be to the right of it, but that was just as sheer as it looks.  A voice called in my head and said, “You’ll never get back down.”  I checked my phone, looked at the lidar image I had saved, and saw a monstrous rock wall over there that I would not be able to do anything with.  I climbed back down to the creek again, thought about taking my boots off, then hesitated, and started climbing on the logjam, hoping for the best.  If that didn’t work out, I could always scooch into the creek.

The logjam was harder to mount than it was to get across.


It may not look like much, but it is when it’s your feet walking along that dangling log (about 6′ off the water), having to push off and jump the last bit.


Firmly on the other bank, I looked up in the trees to hear the rock cliffs whispering to me, though I did not go closer to hear what they were saying.

The going from here was smoother and I soon rounded into the hole where the main waterfall was.  I took a minute to look back and my 3-headed monster of bad options and what climbing over that rock meant:

That pink circle shows the pinch and I was trying to get from the west side of the creek to the east side.  Climbing over that rock would have pushed me well away from the creek and essentially ended the trip.  Glad I chose the logjam.  One interesting thing is how flat it is on top of that rock.  Just left-center of that pink circle, there is a section of green, which translates to flat on this type of map.  I would guess that at some time, the pointy bit broke away, and either crumbled or tumbled down.


In this spot was the waterfall and it’s one of the larger ones in the Umpqua National Forest that I had yet to see.


Overall, not a bad waterfall at all.  Under the right circumstances, it might be really pretty.  Definitely a cool place to be.


Lidar comparison makes it out to be basically pretty accurately.

I ate my sandwich and tried talking myself out of winging it and climbing around the falls, crossing the creek, and heading up that way.  I was unsuccessful and started the climb.  The first chunk was somewhat unpleasant.  After that, it got a lot easier.  My primary goal was to find a way to cross the creek that would also allow me to climb back out to the road.   Because I had the lidar images saved on my phone, I was able to pick out a few places to target.

On the way…

A small little waterfall sitting on a feeder creek almost directly above the main waterfall.


Looking back towards the main waterfall.


Turning my head, looking directly up the creek.  That log looked promising to cross but did not have much in the way of a path out above it.  The next one was around the corner.


This was unpleasant.  It was wet, slick, and had some unfortunately placed pokey spots.  I am not too proud to say that I just sat down and scooched the whole way across.


Yep this was one of those hikes.  The push up from the waterfall was tough and left me pretty tired and grubby.  The good news is there was a sizable game trail right here.  It was also pretty steep.


A large footprint? Bigfoot?  Aliens?  Nargles?  Nope.  It’s a bear double-step where their back foot steps into the print of their front foot.  Don’t @me, Bigfooters!

On the drive back out, I caught something chubby and grey flash onto the back of a tree.  I got very excited at first because I thought it could be a flying squirrel, which is way up on my wildlife spotting list.


Nope, just a barred owl.  I admit to being a little disappointed.

Until I looked closer…


It’s the lighter variety of their coloration and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  It looked down at me, then pretended to look elsewhere.


Yeah, I see you, my dude.  No, its look of superiority does not show up on lidar.

I had a bit of extra time so I decided to push it and check out a different area of interest.

Speaking of pushing it:

Yes, this is both visible from the road and about 20′ from the stream identifiable in the background.


I will booby trap this.

Okay, back to the task at hand.


Like all things born into existence in the year of 1976, this bridge has aged like fine wine.  (Editor’s note: I’m looking at this post again a year later, and after playing 3 hours of volleyball the night before, I’m feeling every bit of that birth year…)

I hopped down off this bridge and plowed up the creek to scout out a new area.


Yeah, that’s as sketchy as it looks.  One of those log chunks was bobbing in the water, the other was fairly solid, the rocks between them were wet and slick and a worse bet than the wood.  But it was the only way to get across and back.  That larger log in the background was causing me concern because it was floating and tootling around quite a bit and I didn’t want it ramming me or the floating stuff I stupidly chose to walk on.


Looking up this creek in a heavily burned area, there are 10 waterfalls over the next 1.15 miles.  This area does not get much foot traffic.  One of the adventures for this summer, I suspect.