Hiking Multnomah Falls from the East

View of the Columbia River from the Gorge Trail.

View of the Columbia River from the Gorge Trail.

Early in January, a falling boulder seriously damaged the Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls east of Portland.  Naturally, when I headed to the gorge Sunday for a hike with my pup Jackie Chan, I forgot this.  Why does it matter?  It matters because you cannot take the traditional trail to the top of Multnomah Falls, and hikers have to be happy viewing the falls from below with the tourist hordes or hike to the top from a different direction.

The lodge and falls from below

The lodge and falls from below

Instead of linking Multnomah with Wahkeena Falls, where I been relatively recently, I drove further east, almost to Oneonta Gorge.  An obvious pullout lets you access Gorge Trail #400, which traverses the base of the gorge hills for miles. I walked west on that trail until it connected to the Multnomah Falls trail in a mile or so after some pleasant wandering through the woods.  All of it is mostly a mellow grade after the climb away from the road.

I quite liked this mossy oulder field

I quite liked this mossy boulder field

From the trail junction, the trail went through about a mile of switchbacks to the top of the ridge, a bit further than I remembered, although it is not very far in the greater scheme of things, and it is never difficult.  There are a couple nice views of the falls along the way.  Eventually a short offshoot takes one to the lookout spot, nicely fenced in for Jackie, so I didn’t have to worry about him.

View of the lodge from the top of the falls

View of the lodge from the top of the falls

The switchbacks are relatively easy since they are mostly paved.  They are also numbered, which I found amusing.  Eleven.  Then you pop over the top of the ridge and into a lovely creek drainage.  I saw no other hikers on the ascent, which I am sure would not be the case when the Benson Bridge is open.

The creek above the falls.

The creek and lush foliage above the falls.

I admired the view for a few minutes and gave Jackie a snack.  I decided the mini falls fifty feet above the big boy plunge were quite lovely.  I passed two guys on the return leg and made it back to my car in plenty of time to get home before the Super Bowl.  I would recommend this hike to someone who wants a moderate hike with some elevation gain.  It will probably see very little traffic until the bridge is fixed.

The mini falls.

The mini falls.

(I know the hues in my photos are too far toward the blue end of the spectrum. I’m not too clever with the camera sometimes.)

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on February 5, 2014, in Adventure, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Outdoors, Waterfalls and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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