■Mileage: 2.4 miles round-trip
■Difficulty: moderate but paved all the way
■Elevation: 600 foot elevation gain
Warning: Running water, use caution with children.
Traveling West on Interstate 84, you may access Multnomah Falls via the Historic Columbia River Highway at Exit 35 or you may use the freeway parking lot by taking Exit 31.
If you are traveling East on Interstate 84, you may access Multnomah Falls via the Historic Columbia River Highway at Exit 28 or you may use the freeway parking lot by taking Exit 31
It is recommended that people with disabilities use Exit 28 (traveling East Bound) or Exit 35 (East and West Bound) for direct access to the lodge.
You’ll find this hike on your way to Portland in the Columbia River Gorge. My family and I stopped for a break and decided to hike to the top. This is a fairly strenous hike because of the elevation gain but the switchbacks keep the incline to a reasonable level.Multnomah Falls is a must see attraction if you are in the area. It is 620 feet high, making it the second highest, year-round waterfall in the U.S.From the parking area in between the east and west bound lanes of I-84, you take a short walk to the trailhead at the Multnomah Falls Lodge. Built in 1925, this lodge is beautiful and offers meals, a gift-shop, ranger station and restrooms.
From the lodge, you head toward the falls for the 1.2 mile trip to the top. Up some stairs and a few steps away is the most popular picture taking site (the picture above is one example). Hike up the paved trail a short distance and you cross a bridge with another great view of the big falls, a very popular place for family pictures.
Continue up the switchbacks for more great views of the waterfall and the Columbia Gorge along the way.
The switchbacks are a little misleading. The first sign says “switchback 1 of 21”. As I pondered this, I thought some people might think of that as a rather daunting task, hiking all the way to switchback 21! But, I also thought it would motivate people who set out on this journey and, as they pass switchback 11 realize they’re already halfway! It seemed like the numbering of the switchbacks was a little off, but it was nice to get to #19 and realize we were on top, the rest of the way to the lookout is all downhill. The view at the top was worth the hike. You can look down at the parking area, lodge and foot bridge below as you stand at the point where the water flows over the cliff.
The vista looking down the Columbia River Gorge from this vantage point is spectacular!
This is a really enjoyable hike and you can extend it if you’d like. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear. We saw one young lady who had leather, high-heeled knee-boots on our way back down, I doubt she made it to the top!