My friend Kimi and I ventured off towards the Columbia Gorge the other week, with our eyes set on Beacon Rock. Neither of us had explored the Washington side of the gorge, and were excited for the potential views and photos we could get. We started late, because well, yea. The drive is a little long for being a local drive, but with the view of the gorge for the last third of the trek, it wasn’t so bad.
Unfortunately for us the hike was closed from a recent snow storm…which happened to slip our minds. Anyways we ventured on down Hwy 14 (Lewis & Clark), there were quite a few view points to stop at that were completely breathtaking and required zero work or effort on our part… but we were here to do some hiking! We crossed back to the Oregon side at the Bridge of the Gods and headed back West towards Portland. We made a few photo stops, all incredible in their own right, but chose Wahkeena Falls.
We were full of bad judgement on this particular day, so we chose the Gorge 400 trail. It was great to get a workout in, with some steep inclines and a lot of switchbacks, and definitely added the miles (about 6) we were looking at for the day. It didn’t have the best views, but was extremely private, which is a great change of pace from a trail like Angel’s Rest. We got a little stumped when the trail turned into multiple forest service roads and decided to head back at that point. I’d like to say I’m directionally (is this even a word?) inclined, at least when it comes to driving, but put me on a trail with the possibility of getting lost, freezing and being bear food.. it. will. happen.
Once back down to our starting point we decided to do the Wahkeena Falls trail. Even though its short, with no elevation gain, its beautiful. Starting on what seems to be a gravel road, you walk creekside. At the end of this little road you come to the first waterfall. This was so fun, and would be amazing on a hot August day.. a wood bridge crosses the water right up against the waterfall, so you can stand right in front of the fall and feel the mist on your face, or reach out to brush your hand under it. So. Cool.
Continue on a small hiking trail past the first fall; this time of year it had some pretty uneven footing with snow, falls branches/trees and some other fun expected nonsense. Of course I fell down pretty much the only patch of ice. Like… where… did this come from, its 45 degrees and icy? Leave it to me. Anyway, when you make it to the end (it’s about one mile total) you’ll immediately see a tall skinny fall on your right with a small bridge across the water. If you head straight and go down the rocks you’ll see a shorter but bigger fall. Camp out on a large rock for some snacks or lunch while taking in the view before you head back!
Continue on 1-84 toward Portland and you can stop to Multnomah or other viewpoints on your way back into town!