Last year my sister and I hiked Wahkeena Falls in the fall. It was one of our favorite hikes, by far. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly beautiful it was. My sister really wanted to hike it again this year, but she just couldn’t fit it in around wedding planning, so I did it solo. It was still pretty darn cool.
Recently one of my friends posted a picture of her hiking view from Angel’s Rest on Instagram. It was a really pretty picture, and I liked it. The ex, who also follows her, commented “best hike in the gorge.” False. If you never go on hikes in the gorge and that’s the one that you always do, then yes, you might think it’s “the best.” But really, it is not. That is quite frankly naivete. Wahkeena is a far superior hike to Angel’s Rest, as is Hamilton Mountain, Coyote Wall, and a couple others. Angel’s Rest is pretty in a few spots (on the scree field and when you get to the top) but it’s mostly a view-less hell of switchbacks. The other hikes listed here are far superior. I dislike when “know-nothing-know-it-alls” speak as experts from a perspective of ignorance. I am an expert now. I know. Thanks 52 hikes in 52 weeks.
The Wahkeena Loop does have one problem, the Multnomah Falls part sucks big time (Like Tommy Tomasino – that’s a The Sixth Sense reference). The Wahkeena side is incredible. It’s mostly uphill, but it stays next to a raging creek/river and has numerous waterfalls and bridges. In the fall, coupled with the leaves, it’s breathtaking. The entire hike is 4.9 miles with 1600 feet of elevation change, but it’s entirely uphill one way and entirely downhill the other. It’s nice to have that triumphant moment when you’re half done and have reached the top. That happens at a crazy intersection of several trails that is poorly signed. Luckily, I remembered the correct trail to take. And here’s the best thing, the most beautiful part of the hike is on the downhill side toward Multnomah Falls.
The falls above Multnomah are so much more than Multnomah itself, because you can actually get close and experience them. There are many and they are powerful and cold. Even though it was October and far too cold to swim, I found a swimming hole and desperately wanted to jump in. The water was so clear and I just have this thing about water. I put my feet in, but stopped there because I still had a long way to go. In retrospect, I should have jumped in. I wish I would have.
Like last time I hiked the loop, when I reached the paved portion of the Multnomah Falls trail it was just a huge disappointment. It was crowded with people who don’t like hiking and have no trail etiquette. I was beyond frustrated. Next time I do this hike I’m going to hike to the top of Multnomah and then go back over to Wahkeena. I’ll just avoid the insanity all together. When I got down to the return trail, it was closed. I had to walk back on the road and the drivers were really really rude. It just cemented my plan to never go that way again.
I started the day with a migraine. That’s why I went hiking. Sometimes I have migraines for three or four days straight, especially in this last year. Nothing makes them go away. Nothing even dulls them. But, every single time I hike with a migraine, by the time the hike is done, it is gone. As I was descending Multnomah, my head still hurt. I thought the magic was gone, but when I got to the car I was fine. Hiking cures what ails you, physically and emotionally. I’m so fortunate to know that.
For information about the Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop click here.