If you're still with me, get ready - I've saved some of the best for last.
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.
The trail follows this burbling waterway as it winds upwards through a thick forest.
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.
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.
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.
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.