The Ultimate Guide To Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls, a gorgeous cascading waterfall with a mid-way footbridge adding to its stupendous beauty!
The towering Multnomah Falls is an iconic landmark of Oregon and is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the US!
Multnomah Falls, fed by melting snow, rainwater, and the natural springs, plunges down a mossy cliff face of the Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge, a canyon of the Colorado River between the states of Oregon and Washington, is a designated National Scenic Area with several waterfalls and hiking trails. Multnomah Falls is one of the main highlights of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
The Multnomah Falls, including both the cascades, is about 610 feet tall, with the towering upper fall measuring about 540 feet and the lower fall plunging approximately 70 feet into the lower pool. The Benson Bridge, a footbridge spanning the waterfalls between the two cascades, was constructed as an observation deck offering phenomenal up-close views of the upper falls and the upper pool and top-down views of the lower cascade.
Enjoy expansive views and feel the mist atop the iconic concrete arch footbridge spanning the Multnomah Falls!
The Multnomah Falls Lodge, located at the base of the falls, is a historic building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Multnomah Falls Lodge now houses an information desk, several exhibits, a gift shop, a snack & coffee bar, and a restaurant. Besides the gorgeous views and the historic lodge, you will also find a few seasonal hiking trails in Multnomah Falls that let you explore the wilderness and a few other waterfalls in the area.
Here is my ultimate guide to Multnomah Falls, featuring essential trip-planning information, hiking trails, suggested itinerary, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Multnomah Falls!
Planning Your Trip To Multnomah Falls
Every season offers a distinct scenery and experience at Multnomah Falls!
Best Time To Visit Multnomah Falls: Multnomah Falls is a year-round destination, spring and summer being the peak season. Nevertheless, the foliage in fall and the snow-covered mountains in winter offer some of the best views of Multnomah Falls. However, winter has some limitations; with all hiking trails being closed for the season, you won’t be able to access the footbridge or any other area in Multnomah Falls.
Time Required At Multnomah Falls: Multnomah Falls is located right off the road and is easily accessible. If you’re planning to observe the waterfall from the base observation deck and visit the historic lodge, a couple of hours is more than sufficient. However, if you plan to hike a couple of trails in Multnomah Falls, you will need more time based on the hikes you select. I have reviewed all hiking trails in Multnomah Falls in detail in the later section of this post.
Getting To Multnomah Falls: The best and most comfortable way to get to Multnomah Falls is by flying into Portland and then driving or taking a bus/shuttle to Multnomah Falls. Alternatively, you could also take a train or bus to get to Portland, Oregon, and then rent a car and drive, or use local transportation to get to Multnomah Falls.
- Flight: Portland International Airport (PDX), Portland, Oregon, is the closest airport to Multnomah Falls, located about 27 miles from Multnomah Falls, and is served by all major airlines.
- Train: The Portland Union Station is the nearest Amtrak station to Multnomah Falls, located about 30 miles from Multnomah Falls.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to Portland, with the closest Greyhound bus stop being Portland and Portland Bolt Lloyd Center, both located within 30 miles from Multnomah Falls.
- Shuttle / Columbia Gorge Express: To cater to the increasing popularity and the limited parking at Multnomah Falls, the state of Oregon offers the Columbia Gorge Express, a shuttle service that connects Portland to Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, Hood River, and The Dalles.
Parking In Multnomah Falls: There’s an onsite parking lot at Multnomah Falls located in the center of the highway but has limited parking and is often full, especially during the peak seasons. The only couple of ways to deal with this is (1) Visiting early morning or late afternoon, (2) Park at an offsite parking lot, Rooster Rock State Park, or Gateway Transit Center in Portland, and then ride the Columbia Gorge Express shuttle to Multnomah Falls.
Other Attractions Near Multnomah Falls: Multnomah Falls is located in the Columbia River Gorge, a canyon of the Colorado River between the states of Oregon and Washington, which is a designated National Scenic Area and is home to several other waterfalls, creeks, overlooks, and hiking trails. There’re a few such gems located close to Multnomah Falls that I highly recommend visiting if you have time.
- Oneonta Gorge, just 2 miles west of Multnomah Falls
- Horsetail Falls, located 2.5 miles from Multnomah Falls
- Elowah Falls, about 6.5 miles from Multnomah Falls
- Crown Point, approximately 8.5 miles east of Multnomah Falls
Things To Do In Multnomah Falls
Soak up the gorgeous views, visit the historic lodge and hike some of the trails at Multnomah Falls!
Located at the base of Multnomah Falls, the Multnomah Falls Lodge was constructed in the 1920s to provide shelter to travelers. The Multnomah Falls Lodge is a historic building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and represents every type of rock found in the Columbia River Gorge scenic area.
The Multnomah Falls Lodge now houses an information desk, several exhibits, a gift shop, a snack & coffee bar, and the Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant. The Multnomah Falls Lodge is an excellent place to start your Multnomah Falls trip by learning about the area and the history from the several exhibits and obtaining details and current conditions of the hiking trails from the information desk.
There’re three primary viewing platforms in Multnomah Falls, the lower viewing area, the Benson Footbridge, and the upper observation deck, all offering spectacular views of the towering waterfall! The lower viewing platform is open year-round, but the footbridge and the upper viewing areas are seasonal and are accessible via hiking trails only outside the winter months.
Lower Viewing Platform: Just a short walk from the Multnomah Falls Lodge, the Lower Viewing Platform is located at the base of the waterfall and is wheelchair-friendly. The Lower Viewing Platform offers the most comprehensive view of Multnomah Falls, comprising the lower and the upper cascade along with the Benson Footbridge and is the best place to photograph the waterfall.
Benson Bridge / Footbridge: There’s a short but steep 0.2 miles hike along the Larch Mountain Trail, starting next to the lower viewing platform, which leads to the Benson Footbridge. The views of the waterfall from the footbridge are nothing but phenomenal! On one side, you would see the towering upper cascade tumbling down the cliff into the upper pool, and on the other side, you could look down on the lower cascade plunging from the upper pool to the Multnomah Creek.
Upper Viewing Platform / Multnomah Falls Overlook: The Multnomah Falls Overlook, located about a mile from the Benson Footbridge on the Larch Mountain Trail, is a moderately strenuous hike. The Multnomah Falls Overlook is situated atop the upper cascade, where you can see the stream plunging down the Larch Mountain and a birds-eye view of the lower viewing platform and the Multnomah Falls Lodge.
The Benson Footbridge and Upper Viewing Platform are seasonal and maybe occasionally closed due to safety reasons. So, make sure to obtain current trail conditions from the information desk before starting your hike.
The Columbia River Gorge scenic area is home to several waterfalls and hiking trails, of which a few hikes start right from the base of Multnomah Falls. There’re primarily two trails that begin from Multnomah Falls, the Larch Mountain Trail and the Wahkeena Falls Trail, but have several vista points and can be customized.
Larch Mountain Trail: Starting at the base of Multnomah Falls, the Larch Mountain Trail traverses several miles of the canyon west of Multnomah Falls. Passing through forested land and several waterfalls, the Larch Mountain Trail reaches its final point at Sherrard Point, which is located 6.5 miles from Multnomah Falls.
The entire Larch Mountain Trail hike is extremely strenuous and is about 13 miles roundtrip with several switchbacks and steep climbs. However, you could customize it and hike to one of many observation points and waterfalls along the Larch Mountain Trail.
- Benson Bridge / Footbridge: The hike to the Benson Footbridge is an easy 0.4 miles roundtrip hike from the Larch Mountain Trailhead located near the base of Multnomah Falls.
- Multnomah Falls Overlook: The Multnomah Falls Overlook, offering top-down views of the upper cascade of Multnomah Falls, is a moderately strenuous 2 miles roundtrip hike from the Larch Mountain Trailhead at the base of Multnomah Falls.
- Wiesendanger Falls: This is a gorgeous 50 feet waterfall on the Larch Mountain Trail, located about 1.4 miles from the Larch Mountain Trailhead at the base of Multnomah Falls, which makes it a 2.8 miles moderately strenuous roundtrip hike.
- Ecola Falls: Located close to Wiesendanger Falls, Ecola Falls is a stunning 55 feet waterfall, and it’s the last waterfall on the Larch Mountain Trail. The hike to Ecola Falls is about 3 miles roundtrip from the Larch Mountain Trailhead at the base of Multnomah Falls.
- Sherrard Point: Located 6.5 miles from the Larch Mountain Trailhead at the base of Multnomah Falls, Sherrard Point is the last point on the Larch Mountain Trail and offers breathtaking panoramic views of surrounding mountain peaks. The hike to Sherrard Point is a highly strenuous 13 miles roundtrip hike from Multnomah Falls.
The Larch Mountain Trail can also be hiked downwards from the Larch Mountain Trailhead, located 0.3 miles from Sherrard Point atop the Larch Mountain to Multnomah Falls.
Wahkeena Falls Trail: Starting near the Multnomah Falls Lodge, the Wahkeena Falls Trail traverses several miles of the canyon east of Multnomah Falls. The trail goes beyond the Wahkeena Falls to Lemmon’s Viewpoint, Fairy Falls, before reaching the final point at Devil’s Rest Viewpoint, and has several other spur trails and vista points.
However, the most popular hike from Multnomah Falls on this trail is the Wahkeena Falls hike. The hike to Wahkeena Falls, starting from the Multnomah Falls Lodge, is a 2.4 miles roundtrip moderately strenuous hike. The Wahkeena Falls is a beautiful 242 feet waterfall plunging down a mossy cliff face.
Lodging & Dining In Multnomah Falls
Given Multnomah Falls’s proximity to Portland, I recommend staying in Portland while visiting Multnomah Falls.
Portland is about 30 miles from Multnomah Falls and is home to several resorts, boutique hotels, and many other lodging options. However, if you’re looking to stay next to Multnomah Falls, your options may be limited to a few campgrounds, lodges, and bread and breakfasts in the nearby town of Cascade Locks and Hood River.
Campground Near Multnomah Falls: If you’re into camping, you will find several campgrounds in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, and below are the campgrounds located near Multnomah Falls in the Cascade Locks area. However, these are seasonal and are always in demand, so I would recommend reserving them in advance.
Hotels & Lodges Near Multnomah Falls: While you might not find luxury accommodation near Multnomah Falls, you could definitely stay in one of the locally owned lodges and bread and breakfasts located pretty close to Multnomah Falls.
Resorts & Hotels In Portland: There’re several lodging options in Portland, ranging from chain hotels to luxury boutique hotels. Given Portland’s proximity to the airport, Multnomah Falls, and other attractions in the area, I prefer staying in Portland while visiting Multnomah Falls. Here’re my top picks for hotels in Portland
If you’re staying in Portland, you will have access to numerous dining options. However, if you’re looking for restaurants near Multnomah Falls, here’re are my top picks for dining options near Multnomah Falls
- Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant, serving American cuisine
- Big River Grill, serving American food in Stevenson, Washington
- Bridgeside, also serving American fare in Cascade Locks &
- Brunch & Dinner cruises offered by Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, in Cascade Locks
Other Oregon Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Multnomah Falls, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Multnomah Falls. You can find other Oregon attractions in my Oregon Travel Guide.
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