At 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is the second-highest continuously running waterfall in the country. This huge cascade pours down from the heights with an authority worthy of the prominent Native American chief for whom it is named.
The waterfall drops twice: once over 560 feet from a notch in an amphitheater of vertical rock, and then another 70 feet over a ledge of basalt. A short trail leads to an arch bridge directly over the second waterfall.
The 0.5-mile-long uphill trail to the bridge should be attempted by anyone capable of a small amount of exertion. You can bathe in the cool mists of the upper waterfall and appreciate the power of Multnomah’s billowy flumes.
The more intrepid can reach the top of the waterfall and beyond, but even the view from the base of the waterfall is edifying. On the way up keep an eye out for such indigenous species as the Larch Mountain salamander and Howell’s daisy. If you hear a whistle at higher elevations, it might be a pika.
While some of the waterfalls in the surrounding area emanate from creeks fed by melting snows on Larch Mountain, Multnomah is primarily spring-fed, enabling it to run year-round. Roughly 2 million visitors per year make Multnomah Falls the most-visited natural attraction in Oregon.
The waterfall area has a snack bar as well as Multnomah Falls Lodge (503/695-2376, www.multnomahfallslodge.com, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. daily). A magnificent structure, the lodge was built in 1925 and today is operated by a private concessionaire under license from the National Forest Service. The day lodge has an on-site restaurant but no overnight accommodations. There’s also a Forest Service visitors center.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel