One of the hikes we wanted to do in the Columbia River Gorge was the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike. There are several hikes within an hour drive of Portland offering waterfall lovers lots of pleasure and this hike is known as one of the best for waterfalls. The hike is classified as moderate and is about five miles. The moderate rating is due to some extensive climbing, the rockiness and some uneven trails along the basalt cliffs.
We chose to go the opposite direction most guide books recommend as we wanted to end by coming down the Multnomah Falls trail. As a result we parked in the lot near the Multnomah Lodge and took the Return Trail #442 at the west end of the lot heading west towards Wahkenna Falls. This part of the trail is relatively flat and follows parallel to old historic highway 30 for about half a mile until we reached Wahkenna Falls. There is an interesting hanging basalt cliff along this part of the trail and we also spotted a small snake as well as a banana slug.
Wahkenna Falls is adjacent to the scenic highway and is quite scenic as it drops into a beautiful pool below. From the falls we took the Wahkeena Trail #420 where we began a steep climb up gaining about 300' of elevation in nearly half a mile. Parts of this trial have some meticulously crafted stonework and the trail follows Wahkeena Creek up. Near the top there is a side trail that took us to Lemmon's Viewpoint where we saw a plaque commemorating a firefighter who gave his life fighting forest fires nearby. The views from this point of the Columbia River below are fantastic…
About at this point the paved trail became dirt and we found ourselves in the narrows of Wahkeena Canyon which is just wide enough for the creek and our trail. We continued our upward climb until we reached Fairy Falls which is a small falls fanning out and providing sparkling water as it drops. Sharon took the opportunity to take a rest on an old bench near the falls. The trail leads to several junctions where we followed Trail #420 past them all. After what seemed like an eternity of climbing we finally summited and joined the Larch Mountain Trail #441. We then headed left on the Larch Mountain Trail which is in a nice stand of very tall fir trees with abundant ferns in the understory. We could hear and see water cascading down the slope and then heard the slight roar of Ecola Falls which drops straight down into what looks to be a great swimming hole.
Just around the corner from there we entered another hanging canyon called the Dutchman Tunnel arriving to Weisendanger Falls and just a small hike further we passed the smaller Dutchman Falls. From there we crossed a steel bridge built over a culvert and then the number of people of the trail increased significantly as we had reached the top of the Multnomah Falls trail.
The view at the Multnomah Falls Upper Viewpoint is spectacular and worth the spur trial to see the very top of this magnificent waterfall. After a small climb up from the Multnomah Creek the trail became asphalt once again and from there we began our decent down the mountain. There are nine switchbacks that drop very fast and it took a toll on our knees as we descended. After about a mile down we come to the Benson Bridge which was 2/10 a mile from where we parked. We had to take one more photo and pause to admire the beautiful Multnomah Falls before heading back to the car…. Yep, we agreed this was another great day to be retired and traveling via our RV