Thunderbird Falls is
an easy approximately one mile hike to a boardwalk and viewing
platform, perfect to sandwich between a morning of working and
a late afternoon movie matinee. The afternoon was pleasant, about
65°F., with small clouds that periodically blocked the sun.
wooded trail, about six feet wide and graveled, follows along
the side of a ridge above the Eklutna River channel.
We started up
through predominantly birch forest, dry and warm, the sun filtered
through the tops of the Birch trees. After
a while the hill extended higher above the trail and the vegetation
changed to include ferns and Devil's Club on the forest floor.
Oak Ferns floated on nearly invisible stems, their leaves
horizontal, across a steep slope above the trail. >>>
last part of the trail is a boardwalk suspended along the ridge,
ending in a wider platform with a view of Thunderbird Falls.
The falls have cut a deep channel into the rocky mountainside.
taking some pictures, we walked back along the boardwalk and took
the creek-side trail rather than returning directly to
the parking area. >>>
The creek side
trail drops sharply to a fern-covered bench and then another short
hill to the river. We followed the silty glacial stream upriver
towards the falls, fascinated by the sun-highlighted Devil's
Club leaves, small and still emerging from the tops of their dangerously
This creek side trail ends about 100 yards short of the
bottom of the falls, with a warning sign to stay off the cliffs.
could hear the thundering of the falls and see the base of the
falls and the misty spray as the river pounded it's way through
the narrow channel in the solid rock. >>>
our steps to the main trail gave us a chance to experience more
of the exquisitely lit forest, sunlight filtered through the Birch
canopy, the nearly florescent Devils' Club leaves and the extraordinary
fractal patterns of the ferns.
on the main trail as we descended towards the parking lot, I noticed
many tiny Star Flowers seemingly floating on the forest floor.
The Friday afternoon we hiked to Thunderbird Falls, a lot of other
people had the same idea. It is definitely a popular summer walk.
The walk to Thunderbird
Falls, including stopping to take pictures, took about one-and-a-half
hours. (Dont forget the insect repellant.)