This area is adjacent to the popular Sandy Ridge Mountain Bike Trail System and provides those non-bikers a nice alternative destination. There is a restroom at the site. Take valuables with you.
Falls Loop Trail combined with the Northern Loop
Trail, is good for both the very young and the very old, but those looking for waterfalls may be disappointed at the creek running over rocks, especially later in summer. The short relatively flat trail can be done with the interpretive brochure to tell the story behind the interpretive markers.
Begin at the trailhead and continue past Little Joe Loop
to continue around to the Falls Loop Trail, with an interpretive sign explaining the salmon life cycle before crossing Little Joe Creek on a small bridge. Grab an interpretive guide at the kiosk and clamber up the switchback and stairs away from the creek to Interpretive Site #2. Here it explains the last eruption of Mt. Hood that caused mud flows down the creeks just before Lewis and Clark explored the area.
At the junction turn right and hike along an old roadbed, then turn left at the private property sign to Interpretive Site #3. Continue to the creek crossing at Site #4 and come to the junction with the Northern Loop
Trail. Going right on the Northern Loop
takes you to interpretive site stops #5-#8, with two small creek crossings, views of a powerline, and large wetlands. If you don't want to take the Northern Loop
, stay to the left.
Beyond the Northern Loop
intersections the Falls Trail crosses the creek and heads west. Take a left at the intersection with the neighborhood trail and head down towards the creek crossing. The trail then heads south towards a yellow gate across a service road and turn left. Head up to the "Falls View" section on the map where two creeks come together and tumble down a series of rocks. There are two spurs along this section for a better view of the "falls". Continue on the main trail back down to the junction and bear right to return to interpretive site #2, cross Little Joe Creek, and head back down to the parking lot.
This trail heads through stands of mostly second growth douglas fir, western hemlock and large western redcedars. There is some vine maple and big leaf maples in the openings. Wetlands and creek areas have lots of skunk cabbage, whereas the trail is carpeted thickly with oxalis and ferns. Stinging nettle is tallest in early summer, so avoid brushing against those with bare skin. Salmonberry provides color in summer. Spring is probably the best time for wildflowers with the trilliums and bleeding hearts.