More than 30 years ago, Maynard Drawson and his friend Jerry Morey stumbled upon a string of pristine waterfalls along Henline Creek, in the rugged Little North Fork Country of the Oregon Cascades. Henline Creek is an unassuming tributary of the Little North Fork River. Upon learning that a series of eight waterfalls were neither named, nor mapped, Drawson embarked on a fruitless effort to name the "family" of waterfalls after his seven children. His journeys through both Henline Canyon and the geographic names bureaucracy is detailed in his first book, "Treasures of the Oregon Country."
Much of the steep canyon is now protected as part of the Opal Creek Wilderness, whose famous namesake has helped divert visitors away from the secrets that Henline Creek holds. Though the path to the only "known" waterfall, 90-foot Henline Falls, was once well used, today it is a quiet trail missed by most who visit the area. Henline Falls is a spectacular sight in its own right, but the scale and beauty of the unnamed upper falls first documented by Drawson is a truly stunning discovery.
On June 8, 2002, I organized a trip to trace Maynard Drawson's route, and was accompanied by fellow explorers Jon Osborn, Matthew Hampton and Ted Leybold. After planning the trip for years, I had prepared myself for the possibility that the waterfalls would be less than impressive. But as we climbed above Henline Falls, and into the secret upper canyon, we were awed by the pristine beauty and spectacular waterfalls. The route was steep and rugged, and we only managed to visit the first five of Maynard Drawson's waterfalls, before climbing out of the canyon, and returning on the Ogle Mountain Trail that runs above the canyon.
The remaining three "upper" waterfalls were the focus of a return trip on June 20, 2003, when Ted, Matthew and Greg Lief joined me for a second trip into the canyon. While we found the remaining waterfalls, parts of Drawson's original route were still elusive, and we knew more trips would follow. Greg has since become a close friend and regular hiking companion, thanks to our mutual addiction to waterfalls, and his learning of our first trip to Family Falls on these pages.
In 2004 and 2005, the "weekend waterfall warriors" diverted our attention to Apparition Falls and the series of other beautiful, unmapped waterfalls along Cast Creek, near Mount Hood. But after our hiatus, Greg urged the group to make a return "photo-trek" in order to better photograph Maynard's string of waterfalls. Ted was interested in somehow reaching a closer view of Ron and Dave falls, as well as exploring the Silver King Mine. So under perfect, overcast conditions, we made the third trip to Family Falls in two parts, on June 9 and 12, 2006, covering the "lower" stretch the first day and the "upper" waterfalls on second. Like the earlier trips, we left knowing that we would be back again.
In December 2006, Alan Hussey e-mailed me with his own Family Falls account from about the time that we had made our June 2006 trip - but Alan had found Maynard's Cave! We quickly planned a return trip, and Alan agreed to join us and lead the way to Maynard's Cave. Word of this trip spread, and soon we had a small army of eight adventurers in the group. We made our fourth trip up the canyon on June 9, 2007, reaching Maynard's Cave and the mysterious Dave Falls - a highlight for me and Ted after all these years.
To view the images from these trips as slide shows, select the photo gallery links below, or use the thumbnail galleries to navigate to specific pages. If you decide to visit the area, be forewarned that the trip is difficult and potentially dangerous. Only those with cross-country travel and survival skills should attempt the trip, and it should never be done alone. There are also several mine tunnels in the area, and you shouldn't even consider entering them if you don't have advanced skills for this sort of exploration. There is also poison oak along the scramble above Henline Falls and along the lower switchbacks of the Ogle Mountain Trail. So please be safe - and enjoy!
Tom Kloster | June 2007
Family Falls 1 Slide Show ~ Family Falls 2 Slide Show
A Tribute to Maynard Drawson (coming soon!)
All images are ©Tom Kloster 2002-07, and may not be used without permission; images credited to Ted Leybold, Greg Lief and Andy Prahl may not be used or reproduced without their permission.