Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Multnomah - Wahkeena Loop

Fall Gorge Waterfall Tour 2013 continues!  I hope you're not getting tired of seeing waterfalls.....

If you're still with me, get ready - I've saved some of the best for last.

Wahkeena Falls

One of my very favorite fall hikes is the loop from Wahkeena to Multnomah Falls.  I always try to time this hike at the height of fall color.  This year, I didn't quite catch turning leaves at their best, but the trail was still spectacular.

Last of the fall leaves

I like to begin my trek on the Wahkeena Trail.  There's less people here (hence more chance of a parking spot) and it's a good climb.  This trail is paved part of the way up, and lined with amazing moss-covered rock walls.

The trail was lined by these lovely rock walls

First stop - Wahkeena Falls.  This wide, fan-shaped cascade can be accessed by walking a mere 0.2 miles from the trailhead.  It's a most delightful setting.  The path beside the falls sports a set of decorative stone walls, and through the trees there's a view of the Historic Columbia River Highway down below.  The falls themselves squeeze out between a gap in the basalt cliff and you can't pass by without getting a good misting. (cover that camera!)

Trail sign cast into the rock wall

Then the trail switchbacks steeply up the side of the Gorge.  Still paved, it's lined with more gorgeous rock walls.  If you look closely, you may discover some coins that were embedded into the concrete during construction.  Not only coins, a handsome stone sign was also inset at an old trail junction. 

Mossy lettering close-up

This sign directs hikers to the Perdition Trail.  Sadly, this trail was wiped out in a late 1990's landslide, and never rebuilt.  Now a part of the landscape, it stands as a reminder of the old trail, it's letters slowly filling in with moss.

Columbia River viewpoint

Before the paved path ends, a side trail leads hikers to a killer Gorge viewpoint.

Moss-draped trees frame this creek

Beyond the viewpoint, a gravelly, leaf-covered trail takes hikers past a charming creek, complete with small rapids, mossy rocks, and moss-encrusted trees.  And a small footbridge, decked out in ferns and more moss, spans this streamlet.

Footbridge close-up

The trail follows this burbling waterway as it winds upwards through a thick forest.

Cheerful stream

A mile and a half of climbing brings hikers to the next reward - lovely little Fairy Falls.  It's delicate, lacy cascade looks like a maiden's dress.

Fairy Falls

This pretty waterfall is another of my faves.  I love how the rocks create a stair-stepping effect on the water streams.  Even better when photographed at slow shutter speeds (yes, I carried my tripod).

Frilly white cascades

After a enjoying a nice break, it was back on the trail for more climbing.  I passed through an area of enormous trees, and couldn't resist giving one a big hug!

Didn't know I was a tree hugger, did you?

While huffing and puffing my way up the trail, I did take time to notice the last of the fall colors.  These yellow leaves were still clinging to a mostly bare tree.  They added some bright spots to a mostly gray scene.

Some yellow leaves still hanging on

But the tall firs in the woods had a special eerie beauty.  And one of the things I love about the Gorge is all the lush green vegetation covering the forest floors.

Dense forest

After nearly two miles of  climbing, and another mile of level forest walking, I came upon the junction for the trail to Multnomah Falls.  This path followed Multnomah Creek, an delightfully scenic stream.

Weisendanger Falls

The creek, surrounded by huge moss-draped trees and lush mossy rocks was amazing.  Add to that two large waterfalls along the way, and you have a photographer's paradise.

Rounded rock bridge and creek above Multnomah Falls

Of course, there was one problem.  A beautiful place like this was wildly popular, especially on a dry Sunday afternoon.  I encountered hordes of people, most walking the path up from Multnomah Falls.  It was hard to get shots without someone walking in the way.  And about the time I left the second waterfall, my lens froze up and refused to work.

Stone bridge at Multnomah Falls

Luckily, I keep a couple back-up lenses in my backpack, so photography didn't stop.  I was able to capture the cute rounded rock footbridge that crossed the creek above Multnomah Falls, and the iconic carved stone bridge that hangs in the middle of the falls itself.

I finished my hike walking down the trail to the base of Multnomah Falls.  This tall, slender cascade is the grandest Gorge waterfall of them all.  Plunging a total of 542 feet, it's a jaw-dropping beauty.

Multnomah Falls - the grandest of them all!

Another great waterfall tour!  I hit a lot of falls in a short 5.5 mile loop.

I thought I was done with waterfall photography for awhile.  However......during the first week of December, our weather here turned frigid.  Temps dropped to way below freezing.  Know what that does to waterfalls?  Stay tuned for my next blog post and find out!

Sharing with:  Sweet Shot Tuesday.


  1. You worry me about the lens feezing. I only have two lenses, one I use all the time and wide angle. Think I may have to but a back up one. Amazing waterfall photos, realy stunning. You are so lucky to live near them

  2. Breathtaking images, Linda, another truly wonderful post..
    I'm a tree hugger myself!

  3. I supposed Multnoamah Falls is on every hiker's "list," it certainly is mine. Would love to do this hike as you did it.

  4. Hi! Nice captures. Your photos are very beautiful. You are a perfect photographer. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Beautiful long exposure images of the waterfalls Linda. xo

  6. My favorite is "Dense Forest"

  7. What a paradise! I love the forest, the creek, the falls (of course) and those moss covered rock walls! Truly beautiful~

  8. Absolutely brilliant captures, Linda! I would have SO enjoyed this walk!

  9. Such lovely shots! I never get tired of waterfalls and mossy stones :) Can't wait to see more!

  10. Nice pics. I especially like the casual views of things along the trail. That's the stuff I'd be looking at if I were hiking, so it feels more immediate. I can almost smell those wet leaves. Thanks!

  11. What a lovely hike! Beautiful views and the waterful are gorgeous. Hubby and I have visited a few of them ourselves! Your photos are beautiful! Have a happy weekend!

  12. An amazing series of waterfalls. I love them all but that last one is spectacular.

  13. How lovely! Thanks for taking us along with you!

  14. We are going to plan a trip to Oregon/Northern California in September. While we have been to Multnomah Falls once before - you have me itching for next fall to arrive!! We snatched some cheap flights to AZ in that will have to do for now!

  15. As always truly stunning photography. Yes the falls are spectacular but you capture them perfectly.

  16. Oh I do love waterfalls. That Fairy falls looks delightful. Multnomah is always awesome. Thank you for sharing, can't wait to see what's next.

  17. Linda, Your hiking adventures look so fun. Your pictures are amazing. I am willing to bet the real thing is even more breathtaking.

    Merry Christmas and Best to you in 2014!

  18. I am a tree hugger too :D No, we are not getting tired of seeing the waterfalls . They are so beautiful and magical :)

  19. Interesting, but I would like to hear more. Do you have more on this? Just when you have a spare bit of time.Hey! awesome blog! I happen to be a daily visitor to your site (somewhat more like addict ) of this website. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blogs and am looking forward for more!

    Cccam Server

  20. Jeez, Linda, you're killing me showing off all these gorgeous hikes. Don't stop though!


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