According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe.
The falls are arguably `the grandaddy` of the 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. At 620 feet, it is named in virtually every World Book and Almanac under the "tallest waterfalls of the world" section. Multnomah Falls is the undisputed best waterfall in Oregon and none are more beautiful. It attracts large crowds on summer weekends, so plan accordingly.
A trail from famous Multnomah Falls Lodge climbs to the Simon Benson Bridge which allows visitors to cross the falls between its lower and upper cataracts across the lower cascade, then zigzags to the top.
Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, the flow over the falls varies, usually it is highest during winter and spring.
The complementing architecture around the falls, Benson Bridge and Multnomah Falls Lodge, are features that help make this waterfall special. In 1914, Simon Benson, a prominent businessman and owner of the falls at that time, erected the bridge which was crafted by Italian stone masons. Benson gave the 300 acre site to the City of Portland. In 1943, final ownership of the site and lodge was transferred to the Forest Service.
The lodge was built in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Every type of rock found in the Columbia River Gorge is represented in the lodge. Inside is a snack bar and a gift shop. In the upper portion of the lodge is a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lodge and viewing area are wheelchair accessible. Watch this video.
Follow the Multnomah Falls Trail to hike a half of a mile to nearby Wahkeena Falls. The name Wahkeena means "most beautiful" in the Yakima language. Not as tall, at a little over 240 feet, and not as well-known, Wahkeena Falls still has much to offer in the way of beauty. The steep one-mile trail leading from the base of the falls to the top is loved by locals for its views, wildflowers, and comparative lack of visitors.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres, running from the mouth of the Sandy River to the mouth of the Deschutes and spanning southern Washington and northern Oregon. The Gorge is unique in its natural and cultural history, as well as its designation as a National Scenic Area.
Amenities: Flush toilets.
Visitor Center Operating Hours: Open seven days a week from 10 am-5 pm.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Think safety: Make sure that pets are on a leash and in control at all times. Spray and mist cause a cooler micro-climate within the falls viewing area so be sure to bring a sweater in summer or coat in winter.
Accessibility: Portions of the path leading to the lower falls are wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator to the restaurant.
Other info: A U.S. Forest Service Information Center is inside the lower level of the lodge. A brochure about the falls is available in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian. This is probably the only northwest trailhead with a coffee stand.