Wahkeena & Multnomah Falls

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation: 1,600 ft. gain
  • Type: loop
  • Open: all year

Further Details

  • Permit: n/a
  • Drive time from Portland: 40 min
  • Google map: “Wahkeena Falls Day Use Area”
  • Features: Columbia River Gorge, Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah Falls, Fairy Falls, Ecola Falls, Weisendanger Falls, Multnomah Creek, Larch Mountain

Even in terrible weather, Multnomah Falls is a constant shit show of foot traffic. At 620-feet, it’s Oregon’s tallest waterfall and also one of the most accessible as it’s right off of the Interstate. Though, I’ve taken every family member and out-of-state visitor to the viewing area at least once, I’m sort of ashamed to admit this was my first time actually doing the trail. I’m generally hiking to get away from people, not fight for space the way I have to in my goddamn daily life. Before I continue, I have some advice: doing the trail from Multnomah Falls to the viewpoint is not actually worth the thirteen steep, sharp, paved switchbacks and hyperventilating parents in the wrong footwear with their pissed children. I’ve found a better way: do it as the descending trip from Wahkeena Falls! It makes a pretty sweet loop with no less than five waterfalls!

I was actually pretty amazed by the trail and have already bumped it into the “favorites” category. Once you get up past Wahkeena Falls and Fairy Falls, the herds thin and the forest becomes all the more beautiful. It’s a great climb, more challenging than I thought it would be in the best way. The return trip along Multnomah Creek rivals Eagle Creek in it’s wild, green, mossy basalt splendor and waterfalls I’d never even heard of. Ecola Falls and Weisendanger Falls look like straight-up postcards.

WeisendangerFalls122415

From the trailhead:

The trail starts at the footbridge from the Wahkeena Falls Picnic Ground. After just 0.2 mile, you’ll reach Wahkeena Falls. Continue on the trail for 2.6 miles, passing Fairy Falls on the left after about a mile. (Ignore all prior signs for Larch Mountain. These are just alternate ways of getting up there. Stay on the Wahkeena Trail.) When you reach the sign for the actual turn off for the Larch Mountain Trail, turn left along Multnomah Creek for 0.7 mile, passing a few other waterfalls on the way to the Multnomah Falls viewpoint (icy in winter). From there, continue down the 1.1 mile path to the lodge area and turn left along the Columbia River Hwy. Just past the bathrooms you’ll spot the well-signed return trail. Take this for 0.8 mile back to your car.

WitchesButterWahkeenaFalls122415

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