Yesterday was Hike day. Chris and I headed back out to the Columbia gorge. We had hiked out there last month, and did “just” the Wahkeena trail, and back down. Today we set out from the base of Multnomah Falls to do the 5.4 mile loop. Here’s a map of it.
Climbing up the first bit we mused about how many people actually go past the first bridge. The hike starts up a set of switchbacks, and after you make it to the end of the first one you see the ominous sign that says “1 of 11”. A few more switchbacks you get to “4 of 11”. Those first switchbacks are fairly steep, and long… a few hundred feet. Your brain starts to do the math, and your body skews the results. But, they do get shorter, and the last 3 of 11… you are actually hiking Downhill. Then you arrive at the overlook viewpoint of the 542′ plunge. Chris called this the least inspiring view of Multnomah Falls. It think it is also known as the “There’s my car” view.
My guess is that many of the people who do get to the top… see the overlook, take that picture like the one above, and climb back down. At the overlook spot, if you look just upstream (to your left) you see that nice little fall at the top of the post. If you venture “up” from there, you encounter several more waterfalls of varying size, including Weisendanger Falls (at left). Note the stacks of rocks on the log at the bottom.
The trail winds along staying with the creek most of the way. There were a few wet spots, and a few spots where you have to walk across the creek. Stepping stones were usually available. I would recommend a non-raining day, dress lightly, carry very little (water and a camera are a good idea), and don’t be hurried for time. We made the loop in 2.5 hours, but we had planned to.
After you reach the “top” – without continuing on UP to one of the “Rest” viewpoints, or the *Really* long trail all the way up to Larch Mountain (someday) – you connect to the Wahkeena springs trail and start following the water back down. Along the way you see “Fairy Falls” pictured at left. There are some steep parts on the way down – that is where I slipped and fell the first time. More careful this time!
There are plenty of small bridges to cross on the way down, and the trail is very well kept up, and actually quite well traveled. We passed quite a few people even at the highest elevation we reached, which I think was about 1600 feet. At the top we passed a couple with a dog, and then passed them again as we neared the bottom. They must have been moving right along. We did take a few rest breaks along the way.
There are several points along the hike where you get far enough away from Highway 84 below (at left) that the water is all you hear. At one point near the top, as we were between the Multnomah creek and the Wahkeena creek, the loudest sound we could hear was the breeze blowing through the gorge. It is a very peaceful and inspiring hike, and could easily be made into a longer, more relaxing “day hike”. I took a lot more pictures along the way, and posted some of them on a Picasa album. I plan to make this hike again, and after yesterday I got re-inspired for another climb up Mt. St. Helens. But, that’s a blog for another day!