|Multnomah Falls peeks through the foliage|
Hiking the Columbia River Gorge's Multnomah-Wahkeena loop is one of my autumn traditions. By early November, the woods here begin their fall fashion show. Throw in several spectacular waterfalls, and you've got yourself a photographer's dream.
|Multnomah Falls Lodge|
I began the day's trek at Multnomah Falls. Dropping dramatically from atop a sheer cliff, this waterfall tumbles 620 feet in two steps to the creek below. This lovely cascade is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and the number one tourist attraction. The visitor area is well done, with a nice viewing platform and gorgeous stone lodge.
|Upper and lower Multnomah Falls|
Although I tried to get an early start, the paths and viewing areas were already busy, even on this gloomy, wet day. A paved path takes visitors up to the historic stone Benson Bridge, which divides the upper and lower falls.
|Approaching the Benson Bridge|
It's always a lovely trek to this point, and the views from the bridge can't be beat! The rainy weather meant the waterfall was flowing full and strong. Spray off this cascade was thick, and in an effort to keep my camera semi-dry, I didn't linger for long.
|Gorge view from the bridge|
Continuing up the paved pathway, the trail traverses 11 switchbacks to climb 700 feet in a half mile. But hikers are rewarded with a view of Multnomah Falls at it's very top. There's also a lovely little mossy creek and cute stone bridge to cross.
|Upper falls close-up|
My goal was to continue on the Larch Mountain Trail for another 3/4 mile until it's intersection with the Wahkeena Trail. Then I'd follow this trail across the ridge until it wound back down the Gorge to the Historic Columbia River Highway. From here, it was a mere half mile back to my starting point at Multnomah Falls.
The Larch Mountain trail above Multnomah Falls is one of my favorite fall hikes. It passes by three lovely waterfalls, but my personal favorite is the gurgling Weisendanger Falls. It was in fine form that day, surrounded by lots of yellow foliage.
Further upriver from Weisendanger Falls, the forest closed in over the creek bed. The thick mossy trees and yellows, greens, and golds, reminded me of a magic fairyland.
|Lots of trailside yellow|
I kept leapfrogging a young man out hiking. Finally catching him at the Wahkeena Trail junction, we struck up a conversation. The man told me he was from the South (don't remember which state) and said he'd traveled to Portland on business. Having a weekend to kill, he'd come out to explore the Gorge. The man was quite impressed with the scenery and number of waterfalls here in Oregon. Made me realize how lucky I am to have this wonderful place practically in my backyard!
Traversing the Wahkeena Trail, I passed large groves of tall Douglas firs, standing silently in the foggy mist. Tons of yellow leaves provided bright spots in the forest floor.
I also marveled at several huge trees completely draped in thick carpets of moss. Their gnarled branches looked ghostlike.
The rain had held off most of the hike, but by the time I'd begun my descent towards Wahkeena Falls, the sky decided to open up. Huge raindrops and tiny ice pellets pelted my face. Forced to protect my camera, it got stowed in my backpack, and that was the end of my photo taking for the day.
Luckily, it was only a mile to my car. Splashing through puddles, I hurried down the final switchbacks to the Historic Highway. Passing by Wahkeena Falls, I didn't even stop to take a photo (I have tons already) and instead bypassed the people milling about it's base (even during a downpour, there were still crowds!)
|Gnarled, mossy tree|
I arrived back at my car, soaking wet, but satisfied. The fall colors had once again lived up to my expectations. Despite the wet weather, it was great to get out and enjoy the beauty so close to home.
Stats: 5.5 miles round-trip, 1600 feet elevation gain.
Sharing with: Through My Lens