After the fire: Multnomah-Wahkeena loop hike
Ever since the Eagle Creek Fire broke out in September 2017, most of the trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge have been closed. When the trails from Angels Rest to Multnomah Falls recently reopened after restoration work, I was anxious to see how one of my favorite loop hikes fared.
We started at Multnomah Falls and took the paved switchbacks to the top of the falls. Even along the paved path, damage from the fire was visible. There were blackened tree trunks and debris alongside the trail, and there was evidence of where the fire reached some of the tree roots and blackened them too. Once we were at the top, Multnomah Creek was still as lovely as ever, with moss covering the rocks and sides of the creek.
Many volunteers worked to open these trails (thank you!!), and evidence of their efforts were apparent – especially along sections of the trail that experienced rock slides. They did an awesome job of clearing the trail and making the tread suitable for hiking again.
Since we were doing a loop hike, we took the Wahkeena Trail for about 1.5 miles to the junction with the Angels Rest Trail for a planned stop at Wahkeena Spring. Although I had done this hike many times before, this section was less recognizable from before the fire. When we reached Wahkeena Spring, I was excited to see that it had not changed much at all.
Overall, fire-scorched trees were visible for most of the hike, but this area is still beautiful and not as heavily impacted as I expected it to be.