- Elevation: 1,000'
- Distance: 5 miles RT (if you don't go to the top of the falls, 4 miles)
- NWFP required at trailhead
Mary and I had planned on hiking Dog Mountain for months as it was the only weekend in May that we were both free. Unfortunately, on the Saturday we planned to hike, the weather didn't cooperate. We didn't want to work our butts off to not have the great view of the gorge, so we did plan B: Falls Creek Falls. Shane was visiting from Wisconsin, and I wanted him to see something other than the standard waterfall drive on the Oregon side of the gorge. Shane, Mary, Jordan, and I left Saturday morning after breakfast at our house. We followed directions to this hike out of the Curious Gorge book. They were pretty easy: turn North on Wind River Road and go through Carson's four way stop sign. Go past the old fish hatchery and take a right. Carson now has a stop-light. Good for them. You want the Upper Falls trailhead. The hike is a very low grade the whole way. We passed a few groups of hikers; not really too many people despite the trailhead looking full.
The trail rolls through lush forest with several bridges. The elevation is really mild until the scramble at the end up to the top tier of the falls (if you decide to do so). We took in the sight at the view point in front of the falls. Then, we opted to go up the left side of the falls all the way to the top. There were some sketchy parts that, if you miss-step, you would fall to certain death. After snapping a few pictures on top, we headed back down the way we came.
After the hike, we headed to Skamania Lodge for beers by the fire place and more views of the Columbia River. We drove home listening to La Bouche Pandora.
I hiked Coyote Wall after a busy week and decided to do it on my own. It was nice to fly solo because I was able to leave the house by 8am and be on the trail by 9am. I was the first car at the trailhead and had the trail to myself. The hike begins by walking up a road where boulders from the wall have blocked the way. The trail starts off on the left and immediately becomes confusing. Coyote Wall is also a trail system for mountain bikers. So the trails twist and intersect all over the place. As long as you keep heading up, you're going the right way. The trail climbs and you begin to see views of Mt. Hood. The trail cuts west for awhile and then you come up to the wall. Follow the path along the trial. This was the first hike I did that shared the trail with mountain bikers. They always yielded to the hikers and were friendly. There are plenty of spots to sit and eat lunch along the wall. I didn't see a good turning around point, so I just turned back when I felt like it. I ran into some women that had tried to hike Dog Mountain but said the trailhead was already filled at 9am. Coyote Wall is a little further east than Dog Mountain, but much less crowded, offers great views and wildflowers in the spring. It didn't take long so I went to Hood River and had pizza at Double Mountain. Then, hiked Wachlella Falls in the Oregon side of the Gorge.
Friday was a beautiful day and the weekend forecast called for rain. Mary met me after work and we made the 30 minute drive to Multnomah Falls. We parked there and walked to the Wahkeena Falls trailhead. After a few quick switchbacks, the falls is reached in .2 miles. Continue up more switchbacks and you begin to trace the river that feeds Wahkeena falls. The trail climbs steadily with breaks where it flattens to give you a short break. The next falls you reach is Fairy Falls (pictured above).
There is a viewpoint that branches off to the left at the first intersection, keep right to stay on the loop hike. Continue the ascent into Wahkeena Canyon, climbing another few hundred feet until you reach the next intersection is with a trail to Angel's Rest. Stay left and continue until you hit the 4 way junction. Go straight to stay on the trail (to the right is Devil's Rest trail). Now you can relax as the elevation is done and all that is left is a walk through the woods and then a stroll past several waterfalls.
After passing Ecola Falls and Weisendanger Falls, you can take the short option for the viewpoint over Multnomah Falls. From there, it's about 15 minutes to the lodge. It took Mary and me 3 hours to complete the 5 mile loop.
I decided to do this hike on a whim. Earlier in the week, a patient of mine had done this hike. She couldn't remember the name, but told me it started with a "Wa" and was in the gorge. I told her she must mean Wahkeena. She told me that wasn't it but I was fairly certain that it was what she meant. Then, this hike/waterfall popped up when I was searching "Oregon pictures," online. I've never done this hike, nor heard of it for that matter, until this week.
I hadn't plan to hike on this day, but I was up early, had already gone to the PSU Farmer's Market and back and had time to kill until picking Aaron up at the airport. I decided this would be perfect, being that it was only 2 miles and was in close proximity to Portland. I arrived around 1pm. The parking lot is really small. I was lucky to find a spot. Within minutes of the hike, you're next to a creek with lush vegetation. On the way to the waterfall, the trail climbs with a decent grade. At the fork, I took the trail left (the upper trail). I think the lower trail (to the right) will provide a more dramatic viewing of the waterfall as you come upon it. I will do it that way from now on.
The hike was very busy with families. It's understandable considering how easy it is. There were lots of kids playing around the bottom of the waterfall and near the small river that forms after the fall. It's very rocky, but I think that a few blankets would make it a comfortable spot to lounge and picnic. When I was there around 2pm, it wasn't ideal timing for sun. I predict it would be better earlier in the morning (around 11am) for the best sun-hitting-the-waterfall experience.
This hike could easily be combined with another quick gorge hike: Oneonta Gorge or Eagle Creek. If you live in Portland and haven't seen this waterfall, get out there!
We had a late start on the road, but that's alright since it's only a 45 minute drive from Portland. It was an 80 degree day and the temperature felt great the whole hike. The trailhead was busier than expected, however, we only ran into 3 groups of hikers on the relatively short trail. A NW Forest Pass is required to park. The trail climbs quickly in the beginning, which is nice because then the hard part is over. On this hike, be sure to take note of the plants on the forest floor around you. There are lots of succulents, flowers and various types of moss and ferns. At the first fork you come to, take a right following the Herman Bridge Trail. After gaining about 600 or 700 feet in elevation you will find yourself at the Herman Creek Bridge. This is a nice spot to have lunch and put your feet in the water. There are large rocks that you can relax on while taking in the view. You continue upward, gaining 300 more feet or so. When you come to another fork in the path, go right again. This will take you past the Pacific Crest Falls and the Herman Creek Pinnacles. Be sure not to miss the Pacific Crest Falls as it is easy to do so: it's up into the rocky gorge to your left as you pass over the a small stream. If you're up for it, I suspect you can scramble up towards the waterfall (just keep left). Just a bit further down the trail and you'll find yourself at the pinnacles. There are several mini trails around the pinnacles. Keep left and you can sort-of-easily get to the top of one where you will have views of the Columbia River and of Mt. Adams (just the tip) to the east. When done, turn back the way you came for the effortless decent down!
Hamilton Mountain is on the Washington side of the Gorge. You need to purchase either a Discover Pass ($30 annually) or purchase a daily pass for $10. If you purchase the Discover Pass, it's good for Washington State parks. We opted to buy the day pass as this is the only time in 2 years where we wanted to hike somewhere that required it. It's a moderate climb in the beginning and you come across waterfalls about a mile in. Head down to the right for views of Hardy Falls. Back the way you came and continue on the trail. Take the quick side-trail to the Pool of Winds. Get a quick picture (and a quick spray shower) of the falls and head back down to the bridge. You can climb a little bit on the rocks here. Continue on the trail until you hit an intersection. I recommend staying right and climbing the steep switch backs to the top of the mountain. Before you reach the top there will be several spots that offer great views looking east and west down the Columbia River. The summit is somewhat anti-climactic. We ate our snacks here but I think it'd be better to continue down the other (north) side of the mountain until you hit a large patch of land that flattens out. There is a great view of Table Mountain and the OG/natural Bridge of the Gods. Aaron explained to me that it was formed by a massive landslide. On a clear day, there are also views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood. I prefer the views from Dog Mountain personally. Continue down the gravel road and follow signs back to the main trail. You'll pass the waterfalls one more time and be back at your car before you know it.
This is a popular hike in the gorge. It is accessible from The Columbia Historic Highway. I've hiked this two times, both of which were a mediocre experience. The first time, we reached the top and found ourselves in a cloud (pretty disappointing since it's a hike you do for the view at the end). The second time, we were hiking it to get that desired view and because Aaron was to write a small paper for a geology class. I'll admit, the top is cool. You can play around on the rocks and really test your fear of heights (if you have one like me). Both times we have been up there it has been insanely windy. To the point where it took the enjoyment out of it and we couldn't spend a lot of time exploring. I am curious if anyone has had a non-windy experience at the top. If it weren't windy or cold, there is a nice flat spot that would fit several groups of hikers to enjoy lunch with substantial views of the Columbia River, Mt Adams and Mt St. Helens. You pass a few waterfalls on the way. I may now have achieved "waterfall snob status" because I don't remember much of the falls (so don't do this hike if you're looking for something awesome like Ramona or Tamanawas). I also think this is a good hike to do if you're just getting your feet wet with hiking.
It's worth noting that there are a lot of cool rocks and formations: a geologists dream land. Aaron seemed pretty excited about a few parts.
Once in awhile, if you're lucky enough, the gorge will get cold enough for enough consecutive days to create a winter wonderland. This happened last winter, and it was stunning to say the least. To view the waterfalls requires driving with a series of mini-hikes; more like walks down to them. It is very little effort, but it will obviously be cold and windy (it needs to be for these creations to be made).
I had driven past this spot dozens of time before entering this gorge. It was brought to my attention by my mom who had seen a picture on Pinterest. I was very pleased to learn that the beautiful photo was taken less than an hour from Portland and that it was easy to do (if you don't mind getting a little wet!). You need to don water sandals or shoes for this hike because the only way into the gorge is to walk up the river. The reason I don't consider this hike "easy," is because you need to wade in waist deep water and you need to climb over a large log dam in the beginning. We did this hike in August and the water was still very cold. After you traverse the dam and wade through the water, you will find yourself at the spot pictured above. There are some places to sit but though whole area is pretty wet. You can also swim at the base of the waterfall. On hot summer weekends you can bet on crowds.
After this mini hike, we hiked one of my favorite trails to date: Horsetail falls to Triple Falls to Franklin Ridge to Multnomah Falls.
To date, this is my favorite hike in the Gorge. The hike starts at Horsetail Falls. You hike up and behind Ponytail Falls. Then, you enter the forest and begin some switchbacks. There is a suspension bridge that passes over the Oneonta Gorge. We did this hike the same day we had visited Oneonta, so it was neat to then be on top of where the waterfall we were just playing under begins. The hike continues for about another 30 to 40 minutes.
The next waterfall you come to is Triple Falls. There is a shorter option to hike to Triple Falls from a direct trailhead. Triple Falls is great because you can sit on top of it to eat lunch (I did this with Sarah Smart when she visited me in 2011). There are pools of water so you can have your feet wet without the rest of you. After crossing Triple Falls, continue hiking for a few more miles following the river. You'll pass the river again and continue to hike up minimally graded switchbacks. Continue onto Franklin Ridge.
This trail joins to Multnomah Falls. It passes by a few more waterfalls (Ecola and Weisendanger) before you come to the top of Multnomah. When Aaron and I hiked the trail, we didn't see anyone from the time we hiked past Triple Falls until the top of Multnomah. This distance was about 5 or 6 miles. Once you reach the bottom of Multnomah Falls, you'll have to walk 2 miles on the road to get back to your car. A more convenient option would be to have two cars and to leave one at Multnomah before you start (or just have your really nice boyfriend run back to the car while you wait at Multnomah Falls people watching. I prefer this option). I really enjoyed every part of this trail. It is diverse and keeps changing so you never get sick of the scenery. I can't wait to do this one again!
I moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2012. I quickly identified myself as a hiker. I want to document my experiences so that I can refer to them for myself and others to provide the best hiking experience. I also hope to learn more about hiking from others comments and recommendations.