Bighorn Mountain Waterfalls

I had touched on how awed I was by the beauty of the Bighorn Mountains in my last post but one of the most surprising things to me was how much water there is up there – and, specifically, how many waterfalls. I had found a few named falls and adjacent hiking trails as I’d looked at maps but it wasn’t until we started motoring up and down the canyons that follow the creeks that I realized how many smaller falls and rapids were all around us.

One of the falls I had seen on the map however is deserving of it’s own post – it’s a real beauty. Accessed by a very steep, 0.8 mile trail, Porcupine Falls lies in a gorgeous canyon 500 feet below the parking area. We hadn’t looked up any information about the falls (or the trail) so we were a little wary at first of such a steep initial descent but Abby seemed happy enough to continue walking that day plus we knew within 10 minutes that the trail couldn’t be that long since we could already hear the amplified crashing of water from below. Though we were ready to turn back should Abbs need to she was a real trooper on both the descent and ascent (neither of which probably felt great on her arthritic joints), never stopping or giving us the signal to go back. We were extremely thankful this worked out since our arrival at the overlook of the falls was nothing less than mind-blowing. Once we reached the water Tom and Abbs cooled off their feet in the brisk water while I climbed around the rocks and waded through the pool at the base. The time spent in and next to the water was a perfect recovery from the walk down, and recharged us sufficiently to make the return an hour later.

Our last “big” excursion was along the Tongue River where the canyon opens into the lowlands on the east side of the range. Tom and Abby had hiked from this spot a decade ago all the way up to the top of the high country but we had no plans to walk any more than a mile or so for Abby’s sake – and for our sake as well since it was 97 degrees in the canyon bottom that afternoon according to the truck thermometer. I went a little beyond Tom and Abbs once she needed to go back but I doubt I made it more than a mile and a half before I turned to rejoin them. Still, even with just a sampling of this hike, I cant’t recommend it highly enough.