Often times in spring the green of the leaves and water gives a feel of being in the tropics.  The lush colors here are supplemented by mists and fogs that pass through the Gorge quicker than the traffic on I-84.  Often trains rumble past the wayside but they too turn to distant echoes the farther uptrail you walk.  The sounds of the rushing waters drown out nearly all highway noises below and if you hike to Fairy Falls high above you can occasionally catch the honk of the horn on one of the barges slowly cruising the Columbia.  Autumn brings yellow tints mixed with vibrant green and red as trees shed leaves, preparing for the winter chills that line the Gorge.

The hike to Wahkeena Falls is not as popular as the hike to nearby Multnomah Falls but it is less crowded, peaceful, and offers views of a waterfall that has several stages and drop-offs.  The hike is considered short at 1.4 miles and is scenic during its entiriety.  The falls are long in nearly all the drops they take.  The hike is mostly paved and has large wood and stone bridges that offer views of the falls. Wahkeena Falls is visible fro walking a short trail from the car and up some stone steps.  THe hike is somewhat steep but not bad for beginners or elderly folk who don’t mind a long uphill jaunt on good trail terrain.

Hike Beta

The trail is less than 30 minutes from Portland and offers good parking in a lot just off the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway.  The lot is easy to find and is sometimes crowded on weekends but mostly with folks just gawking at the limited view from the lot and not hiking up to the falls.  During the week and in the off-season this spot is much less traveled and offers moderate seclusion if you want to stay away from the crowds that gather at Multnomah Falls.

Wahkeena Falls Hike Start /Finish

The trail is trail number 420 and starts at the parking lot that is well marked and designated for this area.  You can easily locate this using our map above.  Start at the stone stairs and make sure to walk to the west (towards Portland) or you will end up walking to Multnomah Falls.  Follow the pave area to eh wooden bridge and cross the creek looking up at the falls.  Continue up nearly 3/4 mile to the vista point that looks at the falls.  You can return to achieve the 1.4 mile hike or continue up the longer trial that is significantly more strenuous and climbs to the ridge above the falls.  You can also link this trail with a hike to Fairy Falls for over 600 more feet of elivation.

Hike Stats

Dog Friendly: Yes

Length: 1.4 miles

Weekend Crowds

Easy Climbing of 800 feet

Well Maintained

Year Round Hikable

Four Star Rating

 

More Beta

There is a large park adjacent to this waterfall on the north side of the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway. This park has picnic tables and toilets. The park area is well-used in summer but quiet and pleasant in winter and late fall. This and and the falls are a great drive by or place to stop for a half hour on the way to the larger falls a few minutes upriver.

 

Summary

To sum things up this hike is a local favorite and one of the most accessible and kid and dog friendly–keeping mind that the falls and stone bridge can be dangerous for both if unsupervised. The trail is easy with a good, short elevation  gain and is good year round as a short day hike or supplement hike to join with Fairy Falls or a long walk to Multomah.  This hike/walk is a mega classic in the Gorge and highly a highly recommended place to visit if you are a Portland local, visiting tourist from Croatia, or seasoned Northwest hiker doing this short hike for the hundredth time.