We visited Wahkeena Falls twice; the first time we went, we hadn’t done our research ahead of time and didn’t realize that Fairy Falls was waiting to be discovered farther up the trail. So of course we returned, and we thoroughly enjoyed both visits.
Wahkeena Falls is a tiered waterfall that lives up the meaning of its name: “most beautiful.” A bridge crosses the creek just beyond the splash pool, and we definitely felt some spray on our faces at this point.
Beyond Wahkeena Falls, the trail climbs steeply via 10 or 12 switchbacks. When the switchbacks end, the trail continues to the left. If you’d like to look out at the river and see how far up you’ve climbed, however, turn right to visit Lemmon’s Viewpoint.
When you turn back around from the viewpoint, walk a short distance beyond the trail “junction” and look for an abandoned trail to the right. This overgrown path will lead you past Necktie Falls (aka Little Necktie Falls), a 30-foot drop that is only viewed safely from the side, and on to a view of the top of Wahkeena Falls. Please be careful on this trail; it is not maintained and what guardrails remain will not offer much protection. With caution, however, I think you’ll find this side-excursion is well worth your time. The canyon through which Wahkeena Falls drops – and the hiker’s proximity to it – are awe-inspiring.
The next portion of the hike is absolutely gorgeous. Wahkeena Creek is extremely photogenic, with several micro-falls and an abundance of moss-covered rocks. After approximately .4 mile of this delightfulness, you will come to Fairy Falls, which is just as lovely as the hike.
This is where we turned around and headed back, but if you want to continue hiking, the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike will take you past Wahkeena Springs and several additional waterfalls.
My rating: Highly Recommended (3 stars)
(Waterfall – 3 stars, Trail – 3 stars, Experience – 3 stars)
Distance from Beaverton: About one hour’s drive east
Nearest town: Dodson
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: 2.4 miles
Best season to visit: Any
Consider combining this trip with: Mist Falls or Multnomah Falls
Toilet / Amenities: Picnic tables, restrooms, and grills in the Day Use Area
How to get there:
- From Portland, travel east on Interstate 84 and take exit 28 (Bridal Veil).
- Turn left from the off ramp onto the Historic Columbia River Highway. Travel 2.5 miles east to the site’s parking area along the north side of the highway.
- The trail starts on the highway’s south side.
- From the east, take exit #35 (Ainsworth State Park) and follow the Historic Highway west 4.5 miles to the site’s parking area.