Great Oregon Hikes, Multnomah Falls Hike

 Multnomah Falls Hike!

Multnomah Falls is one of Oregon’s classic images.  As such, the Multnomah Falls hike is on most visitors’ bucket lists, making it one of Oregon’s most crowded & popular hikes.  Is it worth it?  You must do it at least once, but as an Oregon resident, it’s not my choice for a repeat hike unless you like to be surrounded by a bunch of people!  It’s also not my favorite choice for dogs, because it’s pretty much impossible to have them off-leash ~ there are just too many people.  

But, don’t let me dissuade you from going!  Especially if you’re visiting Oregon , you need to at least drive by & see the Falls.  In winter, they are as spectacular as in summer, perhaps more so, when they look like a thundering frozen column surrounded by wintry landscape.  The falls are visible from the highway, & after parking in the large parking lot, a quick walk will take you to the base of the falls beside Multnomah Falls Lodge.  From there, you’ll be able to see that there are really three falls: the upper, main, & lower falls.  You’ll also see Benson Bridge, which is just a quick, 0.2 mile walk to reach, on paved road.  

Completing the entire trail is a bit longer & quite a bit steeper, with 11 switchbacks & a turn-off for the Larch Mountain hike.  Crowds thin out slightly as you get higher, so you’ll be able to get some great shots of the falls.  But the best part?  Heading back down for a refreshment at the lodge ~ or in winter, a Spanish Coffee.  

Multnomah Falls Hike, Great Oregon Hikes

View from the top of Multnomah Falls.

Map of Multnomah Falls!

Multnomah Falls

Directions to Multnomah Falls

Directions from Downtown Portland

Distance from Portland: 30 miles

  • Take I-84 East for 26 miles
  • Take Exit 28 toward Bridal Veil, Historic Columbia River Hwy
  • Continue Straight on E. Historic Columbia River Hwy
  • In 3.6 miles, Prepare to Park in Multnomah Falls Parking Lot
  • Park car & head towards Multnomah Falls Trailhead

Multnomah Falls Hike Info

  • Starting Point: Multnomah Falls Lodge/Trailhead
  • Total Hike Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate, steep at end, on paved road
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 870 feet
  • Pet-friendly: On leash only
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Good for Trail-Running: No, too many people
  • Crowded: Yes, very
  • Best Time to Go: Give it a try in winter & miss some of the crowds
  • All Seasons? Yes

Multnomah Falls Hike Photos

Multnomah Falls Hike, Winter, Great Oregon Hikes

It’s worth the drive to see Multnomah Falls in winter.

Multnomah Falls Hike, Winter, Great Oregon Hikes

Magnificent.

Multnomah Falls Hikes, Great Oregon Hikes

Multnomah Falls, from a distance.

Mulltnomah Falls Hike, Great Oregon Hikes

The first part of Multnomah Falls hike is a gentle incline, then gets steeper as you go.

Other Hikes Nearby!

The Columbia River Gorge is FULL of amazing hikes ~ for a more complete list, click here.  If Multnomah Falls is too crowded, try other close hikes such as Angel’s Rest, Horsetail Falls, or Wahkeena Falls.  If it’s summertime & you want to take a cool dip, Oneonta Gorge or Horsetail will do the trick.  For more serious hikers who want a longer, more challenging climb with far fewer people, take the turn-off for Larch Mountain ~ an intense, 14-mile climb that starts at Multnomah Falls & ends with one of the best views in the Gorge. 

Where to Stay & Drink!

Great Oregon Hikes, Angel's Rest Hike, McMenamins

Best place to stop & get a drink? McMenamins Edgefield.

The best place to grab a drink after the Multnomah Falls hike is of course, the Multnomah Falls Lodge.  Built in 1925, it has loads of historical charm, & great teas, coffee, & all kinds of adult beverages.  If you’d rather head back closer to Portland, stop at the classic Oregon hotel & spa, McMenamins Edgefield, in Troutdale, OR.  It’s on the way back to Portland, right off I-84, & has a hotel, spa, golf course, several restaurants, a brewery, huge porch, & plenty of Oregon weirdness.  In the summertime, there’s no better place to be ~ & they host concerts on their lawn nearly every weekend.  

Another option if you’re headed to Multnomah Falls is to keep going north & spend the weekend in Hood River, another great option, especially in the summer.  Hood River is one of the best wind-surfing spots in the country, & is an extremely charming town.  For a luxury option in Hood River, try the Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel, or click here to check out all Hood River accommodations.  

Great Oregon Hikes, John Muir, Angel's Rest Hike

Get Prepared!

Light Windbreaker

Even during the summer in Portland, it’s never a bad idea to bring a light windbreaker.  Oregon weather can be unpredictable, & rain is always a possibility. 

Good Trail Running Shoes

The more you wear regular tennis shoes on the trail ~ the more you realize you need good trail running or hiking shoes.  You’ll get better ankle stability & have better traction, & typically are NOT white (like all my ruined Nike’s).

Small Backpack with Water

For most hikes, you’ll need water, some snacks, sunscreen, a hat, & possibly a swimsuit ~ plus whatever else you deem essential.  Small backpacks are perfect for day hikes ~ & this one includes a 2L hydration pack for you & your pup.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles

 

Easily my favorite guidebook for hikes near Portland ~ it covers the Gorge, Mt. Hood, Portland, & the Oregon Coast.  Rip out pages for the hike you choose, especially on long hikes ~ or take a photo of trail directions & use as a guide.

Great Oregon Hikes, Thoreau Quote, Angel's Rest Hike
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