Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, OR


This site is all sorts of things, and I think travelogue is probably outweighing any other category.  It spares me the aggravation of deep thought, research, and real writing, I suppose.

Given a very narrow window to “experience nature” during a recent trip to Portland, Multnomah Falls fit the bill.  Roughly 20 miles east of the airport, it’s readily accessible.  In fact, when you park, you can see its heights immediately.


A marker indicates the upper falls, which is from the top down to roughly the bridge, is 542’, with another 69’ below.  Unlike most water falls, the water doesn’t descend gradually, but just drops from a sheer face, pools, then drops again.

Well, the photo shot comes without any effort, but what would the view from the top look like?

Well, that involves a bit of a hike.  The bridge isn’t difficult, and once you get there, you experience the mist created from the upper falls.  Add a little high noon sunlight, and photographers beware.


It is said that in 1995, a bus sized piece of basalt (400 tons) fell 225’ from the upper falls, landing in the pool below – and splashing a wedding party posing on the bridge.


Time to hike. 

On the way to the bridge, the cable reinforced fencing suggested Velociraptors might be awaiting prey on the trail.


None seen.

There is a paved trail, and it necessarily goes up the side of a mountain in “switchbacks”.   The photo below makes it seem fairly easy, and it is representative of the width of the trail, sufficient for people going each way to pass by comfortably.  It’s curious that the remains of the fence are on the high side, however.


Trying to keep my camera level, this is what the general incline looks like.  This also doesn’t look so bad, but for those observed hand carrying infants, pushing a double stroller, or otherwise in a stage of fitless, this is a long, hard climb, just a little over a mile in length.  Many stopped to catch their breath.  It’s not a competition, unless you’re in a hurry like me...


But it’s worth it, as long as you don’t tread too closely to the edge.


I guess there’s not enough room to put railings along the exposed edge.  But, there is room for this:


Let’s put the fence to deter people from walking places other than on the trail.  And, of course, they do.  Usually kids, or parents trying to show kids how much fun it its to climb to the next switchback, all the while kicking loose dirt and small rocks on those below.

There are views to be had along the way.  Below shows the Columbia River, with Washington State on the other side.  A railroad track splits the parking area, and river boats can be seen on the river, in addition to smaller pleasure craft.


And, there’s one nice turn where you have an unobstructed view of the upper falls:


You eventually get to the top, then go downhill a bit, at which point you hear the spring fed creek that leads to the falls.  Curiously, the mountain reaches higher than the view from the base would suggest:


Before you get to “The” falls, you first pass by “Little Multnomah” falls.  Quite a few use the creek upstream as a resting spot to cool off before going back down.


Finally, there is a small wooden deck to the side of the not-so-little falls, which is fairly quiet given the fairly minor amount of water passing by as well as the absence of any nearby rocks to hear much of a splash.  It’s just a long way down.


Not quite the perspective you’re seeking?  How about this?


Leaving the area, I stopped briefly for a ground level view of the Columbia River Gorge.  Definitely a worthwhile detour.


It’s also pretty cool to look at the site on Google Maps, in “Earth” view rather than maps.


  1. Most definitely you got to see some great sites! One advantage of my old job. I never tired of the Columbia River Gorge preferring it much over the Seattle area when offered a choice. Glad you got to see it.

  2. Very cool. I've seen a lot of OR pics floating around out there lately, will definitely have to give it a shot.