Visit Multnomah Falls

by Kim on March 9, 2011 · 10 comments

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

A visit to Multnomah Falls is the classic Portland tourist experience.  It’s perfect for out-of-towners looking for a touch of the Oregon wilderness without having to, well, travel too far into the Oregon wilderness. 

As a Portlander (read: person who lives in Portland), Multnomah Falls isn’t the kind of place I ever set out to visit.  It’s crowded and right off the highway and the trail to the top is paved, for god’s sake.  And yet for one reason or another I keep finding myself there, year after year, taking photos from the Benson Bridge and climbing the mile to the top of the waterfall. 

And here’s the thing I discover each time I visit: despite the hoards of tourists armed with disposable coffee cups, a visit to Multnomah Falls is always totally worth it

There’s nothing quite like standing on the bridge and listening to the roar of the water as it drops 600 feet into the pool below.  If you believe that man has any lasting control over mother nature I prescribe to you an hour on that bridge breathing in the power of that falling water. 

The details

Pets: Allowed on a leash. 

Drive time from downtown Portland: about 30 minutes.

Directions: I-84 east to exit 31.  The exit ramp is on the left side of the highway and takes you directly into the parking lot of the falls.

Hiking to the top of the falls:  It’s worth it.  Don’t get discouraged when you’re huffing and puffing and spot the sign that says “switchback 1 of 11.”  The switchbacks get shorter, I swear.  After switchback 8 they even actually go downhill. 

Making a day of it: If you’re looking for more than a mile-long hike to the top, swing left instead of right when the trail forks (it’s clearly marked with a sign).  The trails extends for miles out to Larch Mountain. 

Hometown hint: The Multnomah Falls Lodge houses the on-site restrooms and gift shop.  But who cares about the gift shop?  The true secret is that the lodge hosts a mouth-watering, shouldn’t-be-missed Sunday Brunch.  It’s a little pricey at $22.95 per adult but Brian and I partook once, about five years ago, and we still talk about it.

Looking for other hikes in the Columbia River Gorge?  Look no further

Enjoy Multnomah Falls!


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian March 10, 2011 at 6:29 am

We’re adding this to the list for our visit in May since we’re out of shape from a long winter and not too sure we can handle much more than a paved 1 mile hike 🙂


Kim March 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

You will love it. That paved 1 mile hike is pretty tought but it’s worth it.


sheril April 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Wow…. OMG how long it is ..Great snap.. Never seen and heard about this place !!


Kim April 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Sheril, it’s 600 feet!


grazy July 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

This is one of my dream place to take my family for a vaction,hike etc.Can you please give me an idea where is the best place to stay? We can use as a basecamp. thanks


Kim July 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Grazy, I will email you!


Grailsword June 4, 2013 at 11:17 am

My husband and I found that taking the side roads off of 84 allows more stops for those that can not hike as much but want to see sites of the Gorge and other water falls. It inspired a cupcake recipe when we went while I was pregnant.
Grailsword recently posted..Fun Dip Cupcakes


Kim June 5, 2013 at 12:48 am

Good tip!


Cat McMahon June 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

There’s no doubt Multnomah Falls is the gem of the Columbia River Gorge, Kim. As one of most beautiful places in the world to visit, this natural wonder is magnified by the countless waterfalls, trails and panoramic vistas along the Historic Columbia River Highway, one of our nation’s premier National Scenic Byways. There’s a reason for Yellowstone-like traffic and crowds at this destination–Multnomah Falls delivers magnificent jaw-dropping drama!
Cat McMahon recently posted..Dodger and the Rabbit


Kim June 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

You should write for the Multnomah Falls tourism board! Can’t wait to get back to Oregon in just a few days and see it.


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