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The two RV Gypsies (plus one) drive to
Ladder Creek Powerhouse, gorge and waterfall
Whatcom County, Washington state
June 20, 2015

USA map showing location of Washington state

Whatcom County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. Its largest city is Bellingham. The county was created out of Island County in 1854. Its name derives from the Lummi word Xwot'gom, meaning "noisy water."

Washington state map showing location of Whatcom County

Directions: Ladder Creek Falls can be found at the eastern end of the town of Newhalem along Highway 20 within Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Park directly across the river from the Gorge Powerhouse and cross the river on the suspension bridge to the Ladder Creek gardens. Follow the stairs along the creek to viewpoints of the falls. The place has a very accessible trail and very easy to hike, but with some stairs and sometimes a bit rocky. The falls is picturesque and quite enjoyable.

Skagit River Hydroelectric Project sign

history book clipartWhen the Skagit Hydroelectric project was being developed in the 30s and 40s, J.D. Ross developed the trail to the falls and the surrounding gardens as a showcase for the project as the Newhalem powerhouse was being constructed. The origin of the name of the creek is not known, but it is suspected to be based on the presence of the falls creating a natural "ladder" up the hillside. The falls were named for the creek. Ladder Creek Falls is the Official name of the waterfall shown below.

Skagit Stats on the Gorge

Ladder Creek Powerhouse

Ladder Creek Powerhouse

Below: The suspension bridge leading to the falls. Ilse did not like it because of the sign "Load 35 PSF". She told the two RV Gypsies not to put all their weight on one board, and she was serious. Ilse and Lee are shown below just entering the bridge.

sign: load 35 PSF

Ilse Blahak and Lee Duquette on the suspension bridge

the suspension bridge

Karen and her sister on the suspension bridge

Views of the Ladder Creek Powerhouse

the Ladder Creek Powerhouse

the Ladder Creek Powerhouse

Below: The creek as seen from the bridge.

Powerhouse and garden

Ladder Creek Powerhouse and garden

Ladder Creek is fed by the Ladder Creek Glacier and would have a lot more volume were it not largely diverted into the Gorge Powerhouse. However as a result of the creek being drawn off above the falls, the stream remains one of the most consistent in the North Cascades, leaving the falls with just the right amount of water all year long. At night the gardens along the trail to the falls and the falls themselves are illuminated with colored lights. (see photos via the link at the bottom of this page)

pond in the garden area pond in the garden area

flowers in the garden area

flowers in the garden area

flower in the garden area

Ladder Creek has cut itself a fairly impressive slot canyon which harbors a very pretty three-tiered waterfall. While the falls are easily visible from the rim of the gorge, all tiers of the falls are obscured in some way or another - some more than others - by the twisting walls of the chasm. The upper and middle tiers drop 34 and 28 feet in back-to-back fashion, but both are highly obstructed by the shape of the canyon. The 46-foot lower tier is the most visible of the set but can be partially obstructed unless viewing it in a very specific area (near a large tree right next to the stairs).

Ladder Creek Ladder Creek

lower part of Ladder Creek Falls

lower part of Ladder Creek Falls

lower part of Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek

Lee and Ilse on the bridge

Lee and Ilse on the bridge

Lee and Ilse on the bridge

Lee and Ilse on the bridge

Karen and her sister on the bridge

Lee on the bridge Ladder Creek
Ladder Creek Ladder Creek

Ladder Creek

Karen Duquette at Ladder Creek Falls

The creek at Ladder Creek Falls

Total Height of waterfall: 108 feet
Tallest Drop: 46 feet
Number of Drops: 3
Average width: 10 feet
Pitch: 85 degrees
Run: 150 feet

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

stairs to the next tier

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

Below: Ilse took a picture of Lee and Karen, and then Karen took Ilse's picture

the two RV Gypsies

Ilse Blahak

water wheel

bridge

After enjoying the falls, the two RV Gypsies and Ilse crossed over the small suspension bridge to return to their car.

the small suspension bridge

small suspension bridge

view from suspension bridge

Lee Duquette approaching the suspension bridge

laughing clipart dudeBelow: Lee heard Ilse's command not to put all his weight in one spot, so of course that meant he had to walk in a weird manner as he crossed the bridge.

Lee Duquette on the suspension bridge

Ladder Creek Powerhouse

check out the night view of the waterfall These falls are illuminated at night using energy efficient LED bulbs with vibrant colors. The two RV Gypsies returned in the evening on July 3, 2015 to take photos.