hike: Multnomah-Wahkeena Falls loop
Spring is my favorite time of year to hike in the Columbia River Gorge. The waterfalls and streams are running full (especially with the amount of rain we’ve had this year!), and everything is super green. These photos are from the Multnomah-Wahkeena Falls loop hike (5 miles with 1,600 ft. gain).
The Multnomah Falls area is always super crowded (it’s the top tourist destination in the state), and there’s a paved trail to the top that gains 700 feet in elevation is just under a mile, so by starting here, we got the crowds and a lot of the elevation out of the way first. Begin on the Larch Mountain trail, and once you reach the top, the paved trail ends and so do the crowds.
Just ahead a short distance are several more waterfalls, including Dutchman Falls, Wiesendanger Falls and Ecola Falls.
To do the full loop, take the Wahkeena Trail at a junction just past Ecola Falls. We continued on the Larch Mountain Trail for about another quarter mile to a metal bridge for views of Multnomah Creek, then turned back to the Wahkeena connector trail. It was lightly raining for most of the day, and the fog rolled in while we were hiking.
The next section of the hike is all forested, and with heavy fog, it gives the whole area a mysterious feel.
We passed the junction with the Vista Point trail and continued on the Wahkeena Trail so we could stop at Wahkeena Springs for a lunch break. To access the springs, take the Angels Rest trail for a short distance. Just on the side of the trail, Wahkeena Springs comes right out of the ground in a scene that looks like it could stand in for Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings.
Head back to the Wahkeena trail and descend on switchbacks, crossing in front of Fairy Falls, beside Wahkeena Creek as it tumbles down a narrow ravine filled with mossy rock.
Wahkeena Falls was full of raging water, spraying on us as we passed by it. When you reach the parking lot at the base of the falls, stay to the right and continue to the Return Trail, which follows above the highway for half a mile back to the Multnomah Falls area.