Kids who have attended outdoor school at the Cispus Learning Center know all about this waterfall you can hike behind, just one mile from the learning center itself.
Covel Creek Falls impressively spills over a rock outcropping ahead of the Covel Creek Trail, leaving hikers with a beautiful view of the forested area ahead while at the same time looking out at the cascading water and providing a powerful yet peaceful soundtrack of nature at work.
You'll want to follow the signs to Cispus Center from Cispus Road just south of Randle. From Forest Road 23, hang a right on Forest Road 28. From here you have two options.
The most popular route entails turning right from Forest Road 28 to Cispus Road, then find a parking spot and head on into the Covel Creek Falls Trail right by the Cispus Learning Center. The hike meanders through old-growth forest, then crosses the stream at two points before taking hikers up a series of switchbacks. It's rigorous, and you'll want to take a couple breaks, but the reward at the end is the afore-mentioned waterfall that makes the entire trip to East Lewis County so worth it.
Another waterfall in the immediate area, Angel Falls, is impressive in its formation as it cascades over a series of granite slabs before reaching Covel Creek. Turn around at Covel Creek Falls and continue straight on that trail instead of turning left to get back to Cispus. Hang another right at the T and you'll be at Angel Falls in no time.
Hikers wishing for some added difficulty to the hike can continue up the Covel Creek Trail past the Covel Creek Falls, then take a left at the fork in the trail about a mile up to reach Angel Falls. Continue on the trail to keep ascending toward Burley Mountain, a historic fire lookout with sweeping views of the Cowlitz Valley, Cascades and more. NOTE: Please be careful if you're heading past Covel Creek Falls on the trail as the trail thins out significantly and there are some steep grades on both the trail and the edges of it.
An alternative route to the falls starts at the trailhead for Burley Mountain Trail #256. To get here, instead of turning right onto Cispus Road from Forest Road 28, continue on Forest Road 28 for a little over a mile. A small parking area will be on your left, with the trailhead on your right. This takes you to Angel Falls first, then you'll follow the signs to continue to Covel Creek Falls.
IMPORTANT! As of May 30, the Forest Service has notified hikers that one of the bridges about 1/2 mile from Cispus Learning Center on the Covel Creek Trail is out. The recommended alternative is to use the Burley Mountain Trail route above to access both waterfalls. This detour is signed and we also ask that anyone visiting the area heed these instructions, or be careful and use caution if you try to cross the creek.
Trail maps have now been installed on signposts along the trail to aid in navigating the area.
Allow 3-4 hours for the entire Covel Creek to Angel Falls hike if you're taking the whole family. Parking is available at or near the Cispus Learning Center; it's best to stop in the main office to seek permission to park on their grounds.