Multnomah Falls Loop, Multnomah Falls Trailhead, Portland - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Multnomah Falls Loop - 5.1 miles

Multnomah Falls Trailhead

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

Round-Trip Length: 5.1 miles (distance can vary by route)
Start-End Elevation: 78' - 1,576' (1,576' max elevation on loop)
Elevation Change: +1,498' net elevation gain (+1,649' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Multnomah Falls Loop - 5.1 Miles Round-Trip

Multnomah Falls tumbles 611' from Larch Mountain to the Columbia River. This iconic waterfall is the most visited outdoor recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, with over 2 million people stopping by each year to see the spectacle.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Multnomah Falls is often credited with being the second tallest year-round waterfall in the US, but this status is now disputed by numerous record keepers.

No matter its true rank (and however determined), it's certainly one of the most recognized and deservingly popular attractions in the Gorge. Visitors can see most of Multnomah from the main plaza, which includes the upper 542' tier, Benson Bridge and lower 69' tier.

The Larch Mountain Trail leads to view points above Multnomah, and on to several other waterfalls and connections for trips of varying length and difficulty.

The Multnomah Falls Loop follows the Larch Mountain Trail to Dutchman, Weisendanger and Ecola Falls, then turns clockwise on the Wahkeena Trail to Fairy Falls and Wahkeena Falls. A .6 mile section of the Gorge Trail joins the two legs to complete the loop:

The loop begins at Multnomah Falls Plaza with postcard-like views of the falls. At least 5 distinct basalt flows can be counted in the gorge wall from this point. 

A paved path climbs .2 miles to Benson Bridge, which spans the two tiers. Steep, paved switchbacks continue through diverse forests and moss-covered basalt cobble to a spur for Multnomah Overlook (1.1 miles : 760'), a short excursion to the falls' precipice.

The main trail transitions from pavement to dirt and dips across a bridge into a Jurassic-like forest to Dutchman Tunnel, a natural overhang carved from lava. It moderates up Multnomah Creek to Dutchman Falls, Weisendanger Falls and Ecola Falls with great photo opps for each.

Weisendanger is most accessible with a short scramble down to the creek bed, then up to the base of the falls. You'll pass over the top of Ecola Falls before reaching the Larch Mountain Trail - Wahkeena Trail split (1.7 miles : 1,175'). Follow signs right (clockwise for Wahkeena).

The Wahkeena Trail (#420) rises out of the riparian corridor into a tall, drier forest. It moderates on a duff-packed path to consecutive connections for Devils Rest and Trail #419C (2.55 miles : 1,572'); keep straight at both. 419C is a fine option for continuing the loop, but most find the Wahkeena Trail more attractive and better maintained.

The Wahkeena Trail drops to the Angels Rest split (2.97 miles : 1,310'); keep right and begin a sharp descent beside a kinetic stream to Fairy Falls (3.45 miles : 910'). Fairy Falls is a classc fan fall which drops about 20' over moss-covered rocks.

The trail crosses the narrow gulch twice on bridges before opening to the spur for Lemmon's View Point (3.8 miles : 643'), a nice step-out with views across the river.

Here it transitions back to pavement and winds down to Wahkeena Falls (4.25 miles : 246'), which slides through a voluminous chute carved in a broad, basalt cliff face. 

The trail drops to Wahkeena Trailhead on the Historic Highway (4.5 miles : 110'), where you'll follow signs for the Gorge Trail / Return Trail to Multnomah Falls to complete the loop (5.1 miles). While it's possible to walk the road back to Multnomah, car traffic is usually heavy - use the designated trail.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N45 34.655 W122 07.022 — 0.0 miles : Multnomah Falls Trailhead
  • N45 34.675 W122 06.860 — .35 miles : Gorge Trail split
  • N45 34.604 W122 06.712 — 1.0 miles : Steep, paved switchbacks
  • N45 34.566 W122 06.810 — 1.13 miles : Spur to falls overlook
  • N45 34.474 W122 06.522 — 1.35 miles : Weisendanger Falls
  • N45 34.428 W122 06.422 — 1.55 miles : Ecola Falls
  • N45 34.294 W122 06.449 — 1.7 miles : Larch Mtn - Wahkeena Trail split
  • N45 34.337 W122 06.946 — 2.3 miles : Travel moderates in tall forest
  • N45 34.205 W122 07.081 — 2.5 miles : Devils Rest split #1
  • N45 34.200 W122 07.076 — 2.52 miles : Devils Rest split #2
  • N45 34.115 W122 07.351 — 2.97 miles : Angels Rest Trail split
  • N45 34.204 W122 07.458 — 3.3 miles : View point spur
  • N45 34.229 W122 07.485 — 3.45 miles : Fairy Falls
  • N45 34.277 W122 07.525 — 3.65 miles : Cross bridge in narrow corridor
  • N45 34.425 W122 07.587 — 3.8 miles : Lemmon's Viewpoint
  • N45 34.460 W122 07.649 — 4.25 miles : Wahkeena Falls
  • N45 34.518 W122 07.684 — 4.5 miles : Wahkeena Falls Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Multnomah Falls is the most visited outdoor recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, with over 2 million people each year. Arrive early to secure parking.
  • Stay on designated trails and watch for poison oak.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • An overnight fee is required (see rules and regulations).
  • Group size is limited to 12 individuals or any combination of people and stock.
  • Camp in established sites whenever possible. Sites are first come, first served. Some may be closed for restoration
  • Bury human waste 6-8" deep, at least 100' from any trail or water source.
  • Campfires - Columbia River Gorge NSA: Campfires are permitted in the CRGNSA, with potential seasonal and area-specific restrictions. Up-to-date rules are posted at the trailhead and along the trail. 
  • Campfires - Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Campfires are not permitted June 1 - September 15 (peak season) along the Eagle Creek Trail from the wilderness boundary to the Eagle-Tanner Trail. Fires are permitted from September 16 - May 31 unless otherwise posted.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • No fee or recreation pass is required to access Multnomah Falls or Wahkeena Falls.
  • It's illegal to disturb fish in Multnomah Creek.

Directions to Trailhead

Directions to Multnomah Falls

From Portland (points west):

Travel east on I-84 to Exit #28 (Bridal Veil Falls). Park in the large island parking lot and walk under the interstate to the Multnomah Lodge, Visitor Center and Trailhead. Alternatively you may take Exit #28 and drive east on the Historic Highway to the Multnomah Plaza.

From Cascade Locks and Hood River (points east):

Travel west on I-84 to Exit #35 (Ainsworth State Park). Follow the Historic Highway 4 miles to the Multnomah Lodge, Visitor Center and Trailhead parking area.

Contact Information

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
902 Wasco Ave | Suite 200
Hood River, OR 97031
541.308.1700

Hood River Ranger District
6780 Highway 35
Parkdale, OR 97041
541.352.6002

Mt. Hood National Forest Headquarters
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055
503.668.1700

Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30a – 4:30p (closed 11:30 – 12:30)

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"The falls are a relative trickle right now but the hike itself is really nice. I can see the paved walkway up Multnomah being tricky when wet - it's steeper than I expected too."
Lee Altman  -  Portland  -  Date Posted: August 23, 2017
"The paved trail above Multnomah Falls is getting really slick. We came early in the morning and there was a very thin layer of black ice. We turned back at Ecola Falls because we didn't want to push our luck. The way up was okay, but the way down was very slippery and poles didn't really help. You really have to be careful with children. "
Cara Scheer  -  Portland  -  Date Posted: December 5, 2016

 

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