It was a beautiful day for hiking and photography in The Gorge - overcast with little rain or sun breaks, perfect for waterfall and forest photography. I had originally decided to hike just up to Fairy Falls above Wahkeena Falls, but I had so much time and such wonderful weather that I turned it into a 5 mile Wahkeena/Multnomah loop trip.
The hike started at the ever busy Wahkeena Falls. A paved trail leads up to the bridge in front of the falls. Most people stop here, but the trail continues unpaved up quite a few switchbacks before leveling out for a bit. Here there's a platform called Lemmon's Viewpoint that gives a nice view of the river, as well as the top of Necktie Falls. A side trail zigzags down toward the falls but it's in rough shape. It was apparently once an official part of the trail, as the battered remains of a fence lines the edge as it proceeds past Necktie Falls to its end at the top of Wahkeena Falls. This side trail, as with all others I did on the loop, are well worth the time to explore.
After Necktie Falls, the trail follows Wahkeena Creek upstream to Fairy Falls, which is as beautiful in person as in photo. I spent almost an hour here taking photos and eating lunch, before continuing up the trail along the creek. The trail passes the intersection of another creek with Wahkeena. Beyond that the trail splits, with one going to the Angel's Rest Trail and the other to the Multnomah Trail. I took a brief jaunt to the Angel's Rest Trail to see Wahkeena Springs before heading west toward Multnomah. The trail actually passes directly over the springs, so the downstream side of the trail flows like a normal creek, but the upstream side is a forested hillside. Very cool.
The hike from Wahkeena Springs to the Multnomah trail is almost completely flat and moderately forested, showing fire scars on many of the trees. At one point about half way to Multnomah, there are 5 trail intersections at one location -- Angel's Rest, Wahkeena (West and East), Devil's Rest and one name I didn't catch. It was a good thing maps were posted! The rest of the hike to Multnomah was uneventful and relaxing.
I had only been to the top of Multnomah Falls via the popular trail from the bottom. I wasn't expecting much once I reached the trail but I was very pleasantly surprised. The hike up Wahkeena Creek had been nicely covered in moss, but upper Multnomah is even more so. Every available surface -- rock, tree and log -- is covered in a thick carpet of moss. The river is larger than Wahkeena and it tumbles down endless cascades and minor falls. The trail starts above the river and winds down to follow its shoreline. About a half mile down, the trail passes Ecola Falls and Weisendanger Falls in quick succession. Ecola Falls is wide and low, similar to the falls in the Gifford Pinchot. Weisendanger Falls is taller and plummets into a bowl canyon as most falls in the Gorge do. Both are worth photo time. Soon, the trail encounters the paved trail and the upper platform above Multnomah falls and the multitude of tourists. A quick trek down the many switchbacks and through the visitor area and I was back in solace on the loop back trail between Multnomah and Wahkeena.
All in all, it was 6 waterfalls in 5 miles on a perfect day for photographing them. Not a bad way to start my hiking season.
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