Thursday, July 12, 2012

Multnomah Falls Trail in Oregon…

Multnomah Falls boulder

Multnomah Falls birthWith Sharon now on the mend we needed to get out and about and not just sit around in the RV waiting for her to get healed. She was telling me that she was a bit worried that she may have some trepidation when hiking along steep trails and along a creek. So to provide her some mental therapy to go along with her physical therapy we decided to take in a trip to nearby Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls is about a 20 minute drive from our park and about 30 minutes from downtown Portland. We headed east on I-84,along the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Neat geology here, exposed by floods, of the Yakima basalt which is visible in the cliff face near the falls.

Multnomah Falls bridge

Parking is different here in that you park right in the middle of the Interstate. Exiting left off the freeway you park and walk through a cool tiled tunnel toward the fall’s trail. There are restrooms and a restaurant/snack bar conveniently located at the base of the falls.

Multnomah Falls The 620-foot high Multnomah Falls are fed by underground springs via Larch Mountain. The first set of falls are slender and graceful as they cascade over 500 feet down the cliff face into a placid pool. Then a secondary set of falls is created below a picturesque arched stone foot bridge that was constructed in 1914. According to Native American folklore Multnomah Falls was created for a warrior to win the heart of a beautiful young Indian princess who simply wanted a hidden place to bathe.

signThe hike is fairly steep with 11 switchbacks, each marked, that wind your way to the birth of the falls.  The trail is 1.2 miles in length (one way) but will be more like 1.3 to 1.4 miles depending on where you park.  You will want to wear good shoes since you will climb approximately 600 feet to the top of the Multnomah Falls overlook. Fortunately for us the Multnomah Falls Overlook had just re-opened after being closed for a landslide so we were able to hike to the top.

Sharon at Multnomah Falls The views  of the Columbia River and the surrounding landscape are nearly as breathtaking as the falls themselves. As the water continually wears away the rock face the look and shape of these magical falls will change in much the same way as it does in the different lighting of the morning and evening.

I don’t know if it is true or not but there is a story about an event on “Labor Day 1995, when a 400 ton boulder from the face of upper Multnomah Falls dropped into the upper plunge pool.  The impact Scene at Multnomah Falls from this fall created a huge splash that spewed water and small rocks over the Benson bridge. A wedding party just happened to be on the bridge for photos when the boulder fell. Several people had minor injuries from the flying rock, including the groom who was struck by flying rock in a particularly delicate part of his anatomy. His bride reported the next day in that, despite his injuries, he had still been able to bravely perform his conjugal duties.”

The falls are ethereal in many ways but our main task was to not only enjoy the falls but to get Sharon more comfortable on the trail after her spill. I hope this 2.5 plus mile hike up and down the Multnomah Falls trail was the start of her mental recovery of hiking in the woods…


  1. I've done that hike several times. I love it. There are other beautiful falls within just a few miles on the old highway. Horsetail Falls has a neat trail that it takes you behind the falls. Lots of nice places to visit. Great photos.

  2. The event of the 400-lb boulder falling with a wedding party nearby is definitely true. In fact, the boulder falling changed the main drop of Multnomah Falls from a free-fall to a waterfall that now hits the wall where the boulder dropped out. It was huge news in Oregon at the time. (Don't know the particulars about injury to a delicate place on the male anatomy...I can't say that part was in the news.)

    If you love waterfalls, you are in the right place. Be sure to hike all the other waterfall trails and the Oneonta Gorge trail. However, the Oneonta Gorge is a cool, narrow gorge where many Portlanders like to go on a HOT day to cool off in the pools of the gorge. (The actual trail to Triple Falls goes off to the side and above the gorge. If you do want to hike the upper trail get there early on a hot day to get a parking spot. This trail makes a loop over to Horsetail Falls and you can hike back to your car on the scenic drive.)

    The other place to go if you love waterfalls is Silver Falls State Park outside of Silverton. In one day you can hike to 10-11 waterfalls, going behind a number of them. If you don't want to walk the whole eight miles you can park at turnouts and take side trips to each of the falls.You could make a whole day of it and go to The Oregon Garden and Mt. Angel as well.

    We love Oregon...lived there about 35 years. Glad you're enjoying it.


  3. Your first and last pictures of the falls are just gorgeous. I love waterfalls and could look at them forever. Hope you get to some of the other ones that are apparently all around up there. Definitely putting this on my want to see list. thanks! Glad to see Sharon out and about even with a sling.

  4. You have me adding to my list for Oregon! Just beautiful...

  5. I love that drive and all the waterfalls. We didn't stop at all of them but the ones we did were great, like Multnomah.

  6. More falls are on the Historic Columbia Gorge Hwy that runs high above and parallel to the I-84. It is a beautiful drive and there are many short (and longer) hikes to falls. We like to get on at I-84 exit 22 (Corbett) and go to exit 35 (Dodson), where you can get back on 84. Highly recommend this drive. Hope you are enjoying your time in Portland, even though it isn't what you had planned.

  7. So glad you were both able to enjoy the hike up to Multnomah Falls. You did a great job capturing its beauty and lore with your descriptions, photos, and stories. Never heard the one about the wedding party before!

  8. So glad to see that you are out and about. The falls is such a great place to visit with many photo ops.

  9. Beautiful pictures - way to get back on the horse Sharon!