4 Easy Portland Hikes to Waterfalls
Portland, Oregon is known for its lush forests of huge evergreen trees surrounding the city. When we come to the city to visit family, we like to get out in nature and explore. There’s always one problem: my ‘tween hates hiking unless there is water nearby. With almost 240 waterfalls in Oregon, there are plenty of hikes with water features, so we can make everyone happy. Located in the Columbia River Gorge area off of I-84 or the Historic Columbia River Highway, these four hikes are listed from shortest to longest distance from downtown Portland.
4 Hikes to Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
1. Latourell Falls
Located off of the Historic Columbia River Highway, we took the well-marked 2.1-mile loop trail through the lush forest that borders a creek and offers plenty of pretty views. Then there is just a short walk on a wide path to the base of the 224-foot Latourell Falls. Our kids enjoyed climbing along the rocks and dipping their feet into the very cold water, which was refreshing in the summer heat. Just down I-84 is the Vista House at Crown Point that offers sweeping panoramic views of the Columbia River.
2. Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is my daughter’s ideal hike: it’s right off of the road, offers incredibly photographic views and is less than a half-mile hike round trip. If that’s too short for your family, you can also access the Bridal Veil Loop hike which is also easy and short, but provides views of the river and has historic trail markers that provide information about the geology and flora in the area.
3. Multnomah Falls
Probably the most well known waterfall in Oregon, as well as the tallest at 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is a worthy side trip just 30 miles east of downtown Portland. This beautiful two-drop cascade is a very popular destination, though, and can get very crowded on weekends. These falls are easily visible from the road, no hiking required, although there are some challenging hiking trails to the top for more ambitious visitors.
4. Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls is listed on several hiking sites as a “must-do” hike in this area, probably due to the multiple waterfalls and variety of views. The trail is mostly flat, but there are some steep drop-offs. The kids will enjoy walking across the bridges and the close proximity to Tanner Creek. Plus, one of the falls along the route, Munra Falls might provide a refreshing spray.
All that hiking worked up an appetite. On our way back to the city we stopped at McMenamins Edgefield. There are a number of restaurants serving up lunch and dinner and McMenamins locally brewed beer. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Loading Dock Grill where we dined al fresco and the kids drank homemade apple cider.
What would be a better way to experience a new city than to get outside, breathe the fresh air and see the views it has to offer? With its riverside location, the majesty of Mount Hood and the many Columbia River Gorge waterfalls nearby, Portland offers an abundance of hikes — and photo opps. Hilton Portland is located in downtown Portland within blocks (and with views from some rooms) of the Willamette River, which flows north into the Columbia River.
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Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.