How to Visit Multnomah Falls in Oregon
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
The Location of Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is a waterfall located in Mt. Hood National Forest, the closest address near Multnomah Falls is 5000 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Bridal Veli, Multnomah, Oregon 97010. It is about a 40 minute drive from downtown Portland. Since the water source of Multnomah Falls comes from underground springs all year long, visitors can see its beauty in different seasons. When you visit Multnomah Falls, don't just take a few pictures of the waterfall and leave because beside the stunning waterfall, there are many adventurous hiking trails that are filled with surprising creatures, plants and spectacular views. Admissions and parking are free.
How to Get to Multnomah Falls
If you're coming from Downtown Portland, take I-84E and exit on Bridal Veil Rd/Hist. Columbia, then follow the signs, you'll see Multnomah Falls on your right hand side after approximately 3.7 miles after exiting the freeway.
If you're coming from The Dalles, get on I-84 W toward Portland, take exit 35 toward Historic Hwy/Ainsworth State Park. Follow the signs and drive for about 4 miles on a winding road and then you'll see Multnomah Falls on your left.
There are three parking lots by the road in front of the Multnomah Falls Lodge which is located at the foothill of Multnomah Falls. These parking spaces can be taken very quickly. So get there before 10AM in the morning and you'll have a better chance of finding a parking space and more quickly so that you don't have to loop around while waiting for someone to leave. The last time I was there I saw people parking their cars alongside the road after all the parking lots' spaces were full.
Best Places to View Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls has two segments - upper tier with a height of 542 feet and lower tier with a height of 69 feet. The best place to view the whole Multnomah Falls is at the main platform by the bottom of the waterfall. You can follow the steps and they will lead you to the viewing area where you can take beautiful pictures of Multnomah Falls. If you follow the path that continues upward for about 0.2 mile, you will reach the bridge where you can get a closer look at the upper tier of the falls. If you continue further on the path and up the mountain for another 0.1 mile, you will reach the last viewing platform to see the upper portion of the waterfall and get a glimpse of the spectacular sights of the Columbia Gorge . From that point on, the hiking trail that leads you to the top of the Multnomah Falls will continue on, but you will not be able to see the waterfall until you've reached the top of the mountain where the falls start.
Things to Do at Multnomah Falls
Beside enjoying the beauty of this magnificent creation of nature and taking a lot of memorable pictures, you can go to the visitor center to check out the historic structure of the Multnomah Falls Lodge and the gift shop, or have a relaxing lunch or dinner at the restaurant with a beautiful view of Multnomah Falls. If you're up to the challenge, walk the one-mile hiking trail to see the source of the roaring Multnomah Falls at the top of the mountain.
What to Expect on Multnomah Falls Hiking Trail
The Multnomah Falls hiking trail is a very steep one-mile trail with uneven or slick walking surfaces. Part of the trail is paved and about 3 feet wide while the rest is still bare dirt when we visited in July 2012. There were guardrails placed only at certain extreme dangerous areas. However, the condition of the trail doesn't stop people of all ages from embarking onto it. We saw young kids bravely jog hand in hand with their parents as well as seniors in their 70s march up with hiking sticks in their hands. Since dogs are allowed as long as they are on their leash and behave. Within the mile trail, there are rest stops along the way. The trees are quite dense alongside the trail, but once in a while there is an opening that frames a breathtaking view of Columbia Gorge. If you pay attention to your surroundings as you walk, you might have unexpected surprises. We saw a slug that was as long as my hand, a little mouse and a lot of interesting trees and plants that we had never seen before.
Shortly before you reach the top of Multnomah Falls, you'll be greeted by a beautiful brook that is rushing toward the lip of the the waterfall. The water was very cold even in summer. A fenced platform right by the top of the waterfall allows you to observe how the water from the brook drops vertically down and creates the magnificent Multnomah Falls. When you're done you need to take the same path back down.
Things to Bring When Visiting Multnomah Falls
The mist from the falls and the over-towering trees that block the sun make Multnomah Falls cool in the summer and very cold in the winter. So here are the things you should bring along:
- Have your jacket handy or at least two layers of clothes even if you are there in the summer
- Walking shoes or hiking shoes if you plan on reaching the top of the falls
- A bottle of water, a small snack if you've eaten anything for the last couple of hours
- Walking/hiking stick
- A pair of binoculars
- A camera