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Visit Majestic Multnomah Falls

As a balmy Northwestern summer slides into crisp, colorful fall, the hills and valleys begin to explode in colorful changing flora. There’s hardly a better time to peek at Multnomah Falls, the tallest of Oregon’s breathtaking cascades, as it is set ablaze with fall colors.

Wrapped in history and gilded in Native American iconography, Multnomah Falls was purportedly created to win the heart of a young princess who desired a hidden place to bathe.

This magnificent natural gem is now widely visited by Portland’s adventurers, as it is remarkably accessible from the city. If inciting you with gorgeous fall views isn’t enough, the falls also make for an excellent starting point to a tangle of easy to challenging hikes accessible from the parking lot. Stay healthy, maintain happiness, and peep some of Oregon’s most breathtaking views while you’re at it!

Hiking Options:

Hike #1 (easy):

From the base of the falls, it’s a short paved walk, less than ¼ mile, to the scenic Benson footbridge. The bridge provides arguably the best view of the falls—though, especially in windy conditions, you’re likely to get caught in the overspray! This means the path can get slick in inclement weather, so watch your step. 

Hike #2 (still easy, but more difficult):

From the bridge, continue on the paved path for a mile to the top of the falls. The path is relatively wide and well-maintained, but a series of steep switchbacks mean you definitely earn the view at the top. A fenced viewing area lets you peer over the tumbling water rushing over the cliff side, as well as admire the much more placid Columbia River. 

Hike #3 (most difficult):

From the top of the falls, the intrepid hiker can continue on to complete the 5-mile Wahkeena Loop Trail. Though Multnomah Falls is popular and often crowded year-round, tourist traffic diminishes dramatically beyond the top of the falls. The rest of the loop is quieter, and arguably even more scenic and enjoyable, with a series of smaller falls and frothy rapids, including Weisendanger, Ecola, and Fairy Falls. Wahkeena Falls—“most beautiful” in the native Yakima language—is the final gem before a short ½ mile trail returns hikers to the Multnomah Falls parking lot. OregonHikers.org offers a more in-depth explanation here.

 

Getting to the base of the falls is easy, although it’ll be hard to pass up the scenic route:

Most Direct, 30 minutes:
From Portland take I-84 eastbound for approximately 30 miles. Follow signs and take exit 31 (an unusual left-side exit ramp) off I-84 to a parking area. Follow the path under the highway to reach the falls viewing area.

Scenic, 45 minutes:
From Portland take I-84 to exit 28 (Bridal Veil exit) and drive three miles east on the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway. You will pass other falls on your way.

Ultra - Scenic, 1 hour or more depending on stops:
Take I-84 eastbound to the Troutdale exit. Follow signs for the Scenic Loop drive. Follow the drive along the old Columbia River Highway, the first in our nation to be named a National Historic Landmark. On this route you can encounter breathtaking views of the Columbia Gorge, Mount Hood and several other famous waterfalls on your way to the Multnomah Falls parking area.

Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is key in cultivating a stress-free, happy person. Seeing one of Oregon’s proudest waterfalls while you’re at it is what living in the Northwest is all about.

If anything should happen on your hike that needs urgent attention, visit our closest centers in Gresham or Fairview using the widgit below:

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