Hike 12 – Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop


One notable thing about any extended exercise is that it has the ability to clean the slate. As we begin each hike (or for other people run, bike ride, walk) we bring all our baggage with us. I got attacked by bees on Friday. My sister didn’t sleep well.  Work isn’t always as wonderful as it could be, the list goes on and on. As you hike, as you work, as you sweat, that all melts away. What remains is the beauty of the world around you and your own two feet. Keep moving!

Today we did the Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls loop. It’s officially 4.9 miles and 1650 feet in elevation. We made it a little bit more than that by taking some side trails to see the sites. We parked at the Wahkeena Falls trailhead (which is your best bet since Multnomah Falls is insane all the time). We knew we were going to see some amazing waterfalls (10+) but we had no idea what was in store for us. Of our 12 hikes, this one was by far the most beautiful. My sister never takes pictures on our hikes and she took about twenty. Obviously the amazing sunny autumn day and the leaves changing and falling before our eyes helped, but I would bet the hike is beautiful year round.

There were a lot of people heading up the many switchbacks the first mile or so of the trail. Then it thinned out and we were pretty much alone, which we prefer. There were amazing rays of light shooting through the trees and illuminating everything. Rushing water was never far from the trail and the raw force of it was something that you simply could not take for granted.

The trail is NOT well marked. It never once says which trail is the loop or which trail actually takes you to Multnomah Falls. Oh, there are plenty of signs, but they all say random crap that was basically meaningless to us. We guessed and we guessed correctly, time after time. We figured worst case scenario we could always go back the way we came. We ate lunch on a log in a clearing with a small waterfall as our soundtrack.

When we had been climbing for a couple hours, we reached a trail intersection. There was this cool old guy sitting up there and he was talking to everyone that passed. He said, “Are you guys doing the loop?” We said yes. He said, “Multnomah Falls is that way. You’re totally done climbing. It’s beautiful. Have fun.” He was my hero at that moment as there were four trails to choose from and the maps they post along the trail are made by crackheads.

From that summit point down to Multnomah Falls is incredible. There are dripping cliffs, five waterfalls, a rushing clear river, just that part of the hike was worth every minute. Then we hit the standard Multnomah Falls trail. That part was a little bit like hell on earth. My sister kept telling me to take deep breaths. There is a big difference between what we do and moms with 5 kids under 5 who are wearing wedges up the trail and talking on their cell phones as they sip on their latte from the lodge. The Multnomah Falls trail is crazy. I don’t know why anyone hikes it when there are so many far more amazing places.

We hit the return trail, which runs parallel to the Historic Columbia River Highway, and were back to the trail head in a quick .5 miles. The hike was far more glorious than we expected and thus far it is our favorite. We have a long way to go until 52 though!

For information about the Wahkeena Falls-Multnomah Falls Loop Trail click here.


3 thoughts on “Hike 12 – Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop

  1. SO if you allow tag alongs during your hike, Jim and I would sure like to join in on one. 🙂 Your dedication is contagious!!!

  2. The picture of the tree that you posted with this entry is my favorite picture of all! I love the Gorge (I capitalize “Gorge” always, out of respect for its magnificence!) very much, and fall is my favorite season, and that photo pretty much embodies both of those. So….thanks for posting it!

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