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Monday, March 16, 2009

Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon

Day 4.3 Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 1

When I was at that first job in the Bay Area that made me so miserable, there was another co-worker who was an Oregonian too. When he got transferred to another office, we started commiserating about our homesickness through interoffice emails. Then we started quizzing each other on random factoids.

What is Oregon's most visited tourist area?

Too easy.

Multnomah Falls, of course.

And despite having lived in Oregon for several years now, I was surprised when Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok said she had never been. So after visiting Bonneville Lock and Dam and the Bonneville Hatchery, we backtracked a bit to visit Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls has an upper waterfall of 542 feet.

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The Benson foot bridge.

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And a lower waterfall of 69 feet.

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Multnomah Falls is fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain. You can hike along a paved trail that zigzags all the way to the very top. There's a platform on the left side where you can look straight down.

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But most people, including us, only hike the half mile up to the foot bridge.

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There used to be a plaque retelling the legend of how a terrible sickness befell the Multnomah people. An old medicine man said the sickness would pass if a maiden threw herself from a high cliff. When she saw that her lover had taken ill, she jumped from the cliff to save him and her people. The misty stream of the waterfall sometimes takes the shape of the maiden, acknowledgement that the Great Spirit had accepted her sacrifice.

I couldn't find the plaque anymore. For whatever reason, it was taken down, but the story is printed on the back of my souvenir mug.

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That cut from the cliff? Right where the waterfall hits, ^^^ , right there. Back in 1996, a big chunk fell off the cliff wall.

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The big chunk below is it. Now all the paths are blocked off. But once upon a time, I used to walk down to the base of the upper waterfall and go right behind it to the other side.

The water continues down...

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...before dropping off the second waterfall. And doesn't that pool look like a heart?

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The lower falls continue down another stream, but we're not allowed to go down there anymore either. When I was a kid, we used to catch crawfish in that stream. Not enough for eating, just a few for fun before releasing them back.

Multnomah Falls is a nice starting point to drive the Historic Columbia River Highway, which passes through a bunch of other waterfalls. From here, we head to Horsetail Falls.

You can get free maps from the Multnomah Falls Visitor Center, which will point out all the waterfalls along the old highway. Many of the waterfalls are visible from the road, but a few can be seen with a short hike.

All Oregon posts can be found in the tag, Series: Oregon. I suggest reading this particular trip in this order:
I-5 From LA to Portland
Mom and Dad's Garden
Burgerville - Portland - Oregon
Hakatamon - Beaverton - Oregon
I Think I'll Go For a Walk Outside Now...
Vista Point - Oregon City
End of Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Oregon City
Stevens-Crawford Heritage House - Oregon City
Museum of the Oregon Territory - Oregon City
Mom's Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes)
Blackberry Cobbler
Bonneville Lock and Dam - Cascade Locks - Oregon
Bonneville Hatchery - Cascade Locks - Oregon
Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Horsetail Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Wahkeena Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Historic Columbia River Highway - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Crown Point Vista House - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Banh Cuon Tan Dinh - Portland - Oregon (Closed)
Downtown Portland - Oregon
Lan Su Chinese Garden (Portland Classical Chinese Garden) - Portland - Oregon
Powell's City of Books - Portland - Oregon
Mom's Geoduck, Dynamite-Style and Chao Oc (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Clams)

How to Prepare Geoduck and Razor Clams
Geoduck, Japanese Dynamite-style
Chao Oc (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Clams)
Le Bistro Montage - Portland - Oregon
Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen - Portland - Oregon

Multnomah Falls Visitor Center
50000 E. Historic Columbia River Hwy.
Corbett, OR 97019

1 year ago today, dessert sushi ie. "Fruit-shi."
2 years ago today, my attempt to start an "Ask WC" series fizzled into a tutorial on "how to fold a chopsticks rest."


  1. Man, is that stunning or what? I love that you got it from so many angles.

  2. hi wc - i really loved seeing this as well. great photos! we actually crossed the bridge and bert and tc were going to try to get to the top, while i waited near a resting area. they came back down after 45 minutes of hiking. they didn't even get halfway up.

    i'm such a twi-geek - i wanted to check out the falls since there was a scene in the movie which featured it (from afar).

    waterfalls are so beautiful and the noise is kind of soothing.

  3. Nikki,
    And here I was afraid people would be tired of seeing so many pictures of essentially the same thing. :P

    Apparently they filmed some scenes of Twilight at Multnomah Falls but then those scenes got cut from the final script. What did make it through was filmed from the Washington side, I think. Not sure since I don't read the books or watch the movies.

    The signs say 1 or 2 miles to the top, but that's as the crow flies because it takes me way longer to hike it.


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