: This site uses affiliate links, you can read our affiliate policy here.

I saw a photo of Oregon’s famed Multnomah Falls a few years ago and it has been on my bucket list ever since. I knew it would be breathtaking, and it did not disappoint! However, if you want to sustain that feeling of awe over a few hours, the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop hike provides just that.

Passing by EIGHT (!) named waterfalls and countless beautiful views, you will likely be sick of the word “wow” by the time this five-mile hike is over. This is by far one of the best waterfall hikes in Oregon.

multnomah falls and bridge from the viewing platform

Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike Overview

Arrive at Multnomah Falls Parking Early

Even though our red eye flight was extra late the night before, and we only slept about 4 hours, we begrudgingly got up at 6 a.m. to make sure we got to Multnomah Falls before the crazy crowds got there. Luckily, we only had to drive about 10-minutes up the Historic Columbia River Highway to the falls.

Although there is a lot of parking, it will fill up fast (as we saw when we were leaving). So, plan accordingly.

multnomah falls sign showing information and a closeup of the falls.

When we arrived, there were only two other cars in the parking lot. “Yes! Waking up stupid early was worth it,” I exclaimed as I ran to the falls. There was one other photographer there with us for about 5 minutes, then we had it all to ourselves for a good 15 minutes before more people started trickling in.

Explore Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is insanely gorgeous. It is no wonder why people flock here. But, getting to admire this uniquely beautiful waterfall in peaceful silence made it all the more wonderful!

Brooke standing atop Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls in Oregon

After some time at the base taking photos and staring up at the second-highest waterfall in the U.S., we headed to Benson Bridge. Getting to see the waterfall up close is definitely worth the short hike to this iconic bridge – regardless if you plan to do the entire loop or not.

The 11 Dreaded Switchbacks

There are two options for the loop hike. You can either go right before the Multnomah Lodge toward Wahkeena Falls or you can go to Multnomah Falls first and go up the ELEVEN SWITCHBACKS to the top of the falls.

Going to Wahkeena first is probably easier since you have more gradual inclines, but taking the Multnomah-first version takes you by the most tourist-y areas before they are overrun. Decisions… decisions…

Sign post showing switchback 2 of 11 during the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop hike

Ever the loners, we wanted to avoid hordes of people and braved the dreaded switchbacks. At least they count them for you as you go. Seeing “Switchback 1 of 11” is not very encouraging, but once you get to 7 or 8 you start to feel like there may be an end to the madness.

Brooke jumping as we near the end of the 11 switchbacks on the Multnomah-Wahkeena trail

Luckily, this zig-zagging portion of the trail is only about one mile. Once you reach the Upper Multnomah Falls Viewpoint, the trail has mostly gradual inclines and declines from then on.

Upper Multnomah Falls

I won’t lie, for some reason I thought this would be more exciting than it was. You get to see where the mighty falls originate, but it is nowhere near as gorgeous as the lower portion. I definitely would not suggest going all the way up the switchbacks just to see Upper Multnomah Falls.

Various photos from Upper Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge from the Upper Multnomah Falls viewing deck

BUT it is a nice place to catch your breath and take in the Columbia River Gorge views before continuing on the stunning loop hike.

Larch Mountain Trail

After making it to the Upper Multnomah Falls Viewpoint, back track a bit to get back on Larch Mountain Trail which will soon lead you to the beautiful Multnomah Creek.

Beautiful stream leading to a waterfall on Larch Mountain Trail

This part of the trail is insanely beautiful. I loved Multnomah, but the experience of hiking through the lush greenery and passing by the many waterfalls along this trail almost made me forget about the gorgeous Multnomah Falls entirely. Along this part of the trail, you will pass Dutchman Falls, Weisendanger Falls and Ecola Falls. Have I mentioned this might be the best waterfall hike in Oregon?

Dutchman Falls, one of the many waterfalls in Oregon you will see on Larch Mountain Trail

Plus, there are so many other gorgeous things to admire along your hike – like how the sun hits the moss and makes it glow, or the lush greenery against the dark canyon walls, and the various plant life and tiny animals hiding all around you.

A trail volunteer said he saw a pika, but we just missed it. So, definitely keep your eyes open for cute critters! This section of Larch Mountain Trail will be sure not to disappoint.

Moss covered tree branches with the sun shining through them

Wahkeena Trail

After making your way up the canyon for about a mile, you will go right onto Wahkeena Trail from Larch Mountain Trail.

Sign post on the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop trail showing directions and distances to Larch Mountain Trail and others

This portion of the hike takes you into a completely different area. Instead of lush shrubs and moss, you will be walking through tall trees and peaking between them to spot views of the Columbia River Gorge!

Beautiful large trees and clean open trail surrounded by green vegetation on the Wahkeena Trail

Along this section of the trail you will have the options to also go to Devlil’s Rest (+3.5 miles RT), Angel’s Rest (+3.6 miles RT) and the Wahkeena Spring (+200 yards RT). Or continue on the Wahkeena Trail, and stop by Lemmon’s Viewpoint for a great place to take a break while taking in a perfect view of the Columbia River Gorge.

View of the Columbia River Gorge from Lemmon's Viewpoint

Not long after starting your descent, you will start to see more waterfalls! You will even have to cross over a small one that has taken over part of the trail.

Waterfall you will need to cross on your trail

Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls was my favorite waterfall of the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop hike. It just looked so wonderfully dainty and magical. Whoever named it, definitely captured its essence perfectly. We sat at the convenient bench nearby admiring it for a few minutes before heading on our way.

Fairy Falls on the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike, is probably one of the best waterfalls in oregon

Wahkeena Falls

The last waterfall of the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike is, yep – you guessed it, Wahkeena Falls! And, the stone bridge in front of it adds to its majestic view. Feeling the mist hit your face as you walk by really intensifies the experience, especially on a nice warm day!

Wahkeena Falls and stone bridge in front of it.

Once you have taken in the views at Wahkeena, take the Return Trail back to the Multnomah Falls parking lot. And, pat yourself on the back for getting there early when you see the packed parking lot and crowds of tourists.

Shorter Multnomah Waterfall Hike Option

Want to see some of this beauty but don’t have the time or endurance for a 5+ mile hike? Here’s my suggestion: get there early to check out Multnomah Falls before the crowds and walk to the bridge. Then, backtrack over to Wahkeena Falls and up to Fairy Falls before heading back to your car. This only adds up to about 3 miles and you still get to see many of the gorgeous falls!

Wooden bridge crossing the stream and mini waterfall headed back towards Multnomah Falls

See more outdoor adventures and tips for visiting Oregon.

See 8 Waterfalls on the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike in Oregon