Name of Waterfall

Covell Creek Falls


The waterfalls of Covell Creek are accessed most directly via the Burley Mountain Trail near Tower Rock in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From Randle, take SR 131 south towards Mt. St. Helens, then bear left onto Forest Road 23 towards Trout Lake (Road 25 continues straight to St. Helens and Cougar). After about 13 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 28, following signs for the Cispus Center and Tower Rock. Continue 2 miles on Road 28 to just beyond the bridge across Yellowjacket Creek. Here, Road 28 continues straight and becomes gravel - take this, do not follow the pavement. On the now gravel extension of Road 28, continue another 2 miles to the Burley Mountain Trail, indicated by a wooden sign board next to the road.
The trail climbs moderately up switchbacks for the first half mile to a junction. The quickest route to Covell Creek Falls is to take the right path at the junction, which follows under huge amphitheater-like basalt cliffs and reaches the falls in another half mile. The trail is a loop at this point, and returning to the trailhead in either direction is about the same distance - continuing on in a counter-clockwise direction will provide access to Angel Falls as well.Covell Creek Falls is the smallest of the three significant waterfalls found within the Covell Creek basin. The falls occur where its namesake creek has eroded a narrow notch in the rim of an unusual basalt plateau perched low down on the side of Burley Mountain. The creek has carved a short canyon, which almost transitions to an actual slot canyon for about 50 feet, upon exiting which it plunges over the lip of the plateau in twin side-by-side streams and free-falls 80 feet into a verdant grotto. The cliff over which the stream falls is undercut enough to allow the trail to pass behind the falls with plenty of room to spare, making Covell Creek Falls one of the few true walk-behind waterfalls to be found in Washington State.
Covell Creek drains from a basin covering approximately 1.25 square miles above this waterfall, and extending from elevations of about 2000 feet up to 5300 feet at the summit of Burley Mountain. Though the volume of water in the stream does become considerably reduced in the summer and early autumn months, it doesn't appear that the stream every dries out entirely. Note that for hikers beginning from the trailhead off of Forest Road 76 near the Cispus Center, the stream does sink into the ground well upstream from where it crosses under the road, so it may appear to be dry when that isn't truly the case. During the winter and spring months the stream can swell to fairly impressive levels, creating a swirling cloud of mist at the base of the falls.Covell Creek Falls is the official name of the falls, as recognized by the forest service. The falls are also known as Phantom Falls (presumably because Angel Falls occurs upstream, and a Phantom is kind of the opposite of an Angel) and Curtain Falls, due likely to its appearance. These names seem to have been either colloquialized by hiking guide books or by locals.

Other Names

['Phantom Falls', 'Curtain Falls']



IWC Rating (International Waterfall Classification)


Total Height (ft)


Tallest Drop


Number of Drops


Average Width


Maximum Width


Average High Volume (Cubic ft per second)

5 cfs (7 months)

Average Low Volume (Cubic ft per second)

1 cfs (5 months)


90 degrees

Run (ft)


Watershed or Feeder Stream

Columbia River Covell Creek