Over the past week in the northwest in early August, Hannah and I have been to Mount St. Helens in Washington and Crater Lake in southwestern Oregon. And yet it’s today’s hike on the Columbia River Gorge that is the most spectacular.
Multnomah Falls lies some thirty miles east of Portland, OR along I-84. It’s a perfect location for the last hike of our vacation in the Northwest since we leave from Portland (PDX) tonight at 11P on a red eye non-stop flight to Boston, MA.
With such easy access, the falls are mobbed on this first Thursday in August. Mobbed is no hyperbole. It’s Disney World during school vacation crazy; it’s Jersey shore in August nuts. At the base of the falls we step around tourists to view the falls in the distance. The good news is that 99% of the throng has no interest in hiking the Multnomah loop trail with us. I guess, in this case, we are the 1%.
Beginning by walking for 100 yards west along Oregon state highway 30, we soon step into the forest and climb the rocky trail towards Wakeena Falls.
And just like that we are up and away from the crowds.
Our loop hike will go from Wakeena Falls to Devil’s Rest and back by Multnomah Falls today; it will take nearly four hours over some nine miles of mountainside hiking.
In another 0.4 of a mile we are at the Wakeena Falls, which both fortunately and unfortunately, has a parking area nearby.
As such, the crowds return. And that’s fine. There’s a fiesta buzz to the air. We remember that this natural wonder is not only for the uber-fit and half-crazed hikers.
The spectacular falls are just the first taste of the five falls we will see today. Enjoy this 26 second video of Wakeena Falls.
Once we leave Wakeena Falls, the crowds disappear again. We resume our loop hike heading for Fairy Falls, our next aquatic attraction.
In short order we are high above the Columbia River
The trail is a pleasing and certainly demanding set of switchbacks shaded by the summer forest.
Another 0.8 of a mile we come to Fairy Falls.
Mother Nature has presented us with another natural gift. Check out this 37 second video of Fairy Falls.
The loop trail climbs through a rain forest of dense growth. These summer months are the dry ones here in Oregon. Come October, they will get the rain that they are known for and it will last til spring.
Though not often, but regularly enough, we catch a glimpse of the Interstate 84 below us.
Still just 3P in the afternoon and having hiked three miles up the mountain, we choose to hike on another 1.6 miles to the Devil’s Rest viewpoint at 2400 feet.
It turns out the trail is dirt packed and easy on our feet with convenient switchbacks to take us up to Columbia River vista.
Two hours in, we hike back onto the Multnomah Falls loop and head for Ercola Falls.
After two miles of hiking, we pick up other trail loopers at Ercola Falls.
The trail remains rocky, but it’s all downhill from here. And then the crowds pick up; soon the trail is paved and leading to a view from the top of Multnomah Falls. The back and forth switchbacks allow many to scale this mountain side facing the Columbia River Gorge.
When on a hike, if at all possible, hike with someone who is cool. Shades make this woman.
We are now asking sightseers to wait just a minute as we snap the multi-wonderous Multnomah Falls.
A tad weary we sip red wine from our water bottles at the stone patio as the base of the falls. We are not in a hurry to have our vacation end any time soon.