June 6, 2019 – Wahkeena-Multnomah Falls Loop
This area was burned by the Eagle Creek Fire of September 2017. The trails above the waterfalls were closed for over a year, then have been reopened and closed periodically since fall 2018. Instability along the trail, falling trees and sliding slopes have been valiantly repaired by our intrepid trail keepers. The trails were open today. We hiked up Wahkeena Creek and down Multnomah Creek. Much of the understory removed by fire has returned as lush greenery. It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day, and there were sooo many flowers!!! Of course, by the time we circled back around to Multnomah Falls there were also sooo many people, but most don’t go above the Benson Bridge. I enjoyed my first foray back onto these trails. (Hike #26 for 2019, 5 miles, 1600 feet)
Approaching Multnomah Falls from the parking area.
We started by climbing past Wahkeena Falls, and up several hanging garden switchbacks to Lemmons Viewpoint:
Tiger lily blooming near the viewpoint.
View across the Columbia River
View upriver to Beacon Rock
The trail continues up Wahkeena Creek beyond Fairy Falls and onto the ridge between the drainages:
Millions of candy flowers line the burned forest floor.
The next section of trail, along the upper ridgecrest, has always felt very special to me – a quiet flat trail in the deep forest, high on a steep ridge above the river – immensely peaceful and idyllic. My first time through after the fire was trepidatious, but the trail retains it’s magical quality. Despite the scorched trees and more open view, the feeling of peace remains. These trees will all come down at someday. Today I marvel at the explosion of flowers the extra sunlight has nurtured.
A couple of comparisons from a June 2014 Hike:
View downslope to the river.
From here, the trail crosses a couple of flowery drainages before heading down to Multnomah Creek:
Arnica and columbine
Arnica, bleeding heart
Columbine, iris, bleeding heart
The trail passes several waterfalls along Multnomah Creek:
New sign, burned sign
Flower lined trail
Monkey and candy flowers
A side spur leads out to the viewpoint at the top of Multnomah Falls (where the crowds of people begin):
The top of falls viewpoint
Looking straight down the falls
View of the parking area, river and beyond
A dozen or so paved switchbacks lead down to the trailhead. Lots of people and flowers along the way:
Rebuilt rock wall along the trail
Burned trail post
Approaching the Benson Bridge
Looking down to the view plaza from the bridge
Multnomah Falls from the view plaza
Looking back from the approach area
Burned trees along the ridgeline
littleleaf candy flower