Last weekend I drove out to Multnomah Falls, along I-84, to visit the tallest waterfall in Oregon. It was my first time back in over 14-years, a fact that makes me feel a little old.
So, if you’re aiming to explore the Columbia River Gorge, you might want to start with Multnomah Falls. It’s a quick, easy hike for the whole family, with an abundance of beautiful scenery. Plus, it’s a very Portland thing to do – like drinking coffee, enjoying the food carts downtown, or lining up at VooDoo Doughnut for a maple-bacon bar.
Not only was this my first time in over a decade, but it was my first time in the winter. The big bonus was that it wasn’t as busy as the crazy summertime crowds. Although if you visit Portland in the summer, the best time to visit is July or August, you can usually avoid the worst crowds by going early in the morning.
A Columbia River Gorge Classic
These beautiful falls, cascade down in two major steps. The first, and largest, drop is 542 feet into to a large pool before dropping another 69 feet and continuing downstream into the Columbia River.
There’s a viewing platform at the base of the second drop, which is where most people take pictures before heading off to get coffee or visit the gift shop. If you are a bit more ambitious and walk up a ways, you can cross Benson bridge and get a much better view of the main falls. From here you can usually feel spray coming off the main waterfall. A lot of people like to pose on the bridge for photos from friends or family down below.
If you’re feeling adventurous, follow the paved trail up for a little over 1-mile and enjoy a sweeping view from atop the falls. The trail, 2.6 miles round-trip, is paved most of the way up to protect against erosion. But parts of the trail near the top of the falls still get washed out.
To reach the Multnomah Falls lookout, you’ll wind your way up 11 switchbacks as helpful little signs point out.
When you’re done enjoying the falls you can grab a coffee or sit down in the restaurant and enjoy a meal with your friends.
Parking is FREE.
Video of Multnomah Falls
Have you visited Multnomah Falls? Tell us about it in the comments.