If you don’t like crowds, this may not be your loop. Multnomah Falls is on every tourist must-see list when visiting Oregon. The Multnomah – Wahkeena loop might be the most popular hiking loop in the Columbia Gorge. The one-mile asphalt trail to the top of the falls will have hundreds of hikers almost every weekend. However, once past the crowds and on the trails made of dirt and rocks is a great way to get a run for a few hours.
See the map at the bottom of this post for a couple of loops around 15 miles that start from Multnomah Falls Lodge. The first one uses the Larch Mountain Trail, Oneonta Trail, and the Franklin Ridge Trail, which leads back to the Larch Mountain Trail. The other slightly less crowded loop uses the connector trail from the Lodge to Wahkeena Falls. Head up Wahkeena Falls Trail to Larch Mountain Trail. Continue up Larch Mountain and take Multnomah Spur Trail about 2.5 miles from the top of Larch Mountain. The Multnomah Spur Trail meets the Oneonta Trail in .7 miles. Take Oneonta down to the newly reopened Gorge 400 Trail, which leads back to Larch Mountain Trail close to the Multnomah Lodge.
Larch Mountain Trail is 6.8 miles from Multnomah Falls Lodge to Sherrard Point, where 100 steps lead up to a mountain-identifier viewpoint. See Mt. Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson on a clear day. Once at Sherrard Point, head through the Larch Mountain Parking lot, and turn left to find the Oneonta Trail. The Oneonta Trail will return to Multnomah Lodge via the Franklin Ridge Trail or the Gorge 400 trail.
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The famous Benson Footbridge at the lower section of the Multnomah Falls is part of the Larch Mountain Trail. There are three more waterfalls on the Larch Mountain Trail and a small pool to jump in the creek on hot days. After the three waterfalls, the trail climbs to the Larch Mountain Summit through dense forests of evergreens, moss, and ferns.
Wahkeena Trail 420 climbs 1400′ feet for two miles along Wahkeena Falls toward Larch Mountain Trail on several switchbacks and bridges. The 242′ Wahkeena Falls belts out of a small narrow canyon of moss and ferns. Fairy Falls is another small waterfall about one mile from the trailhead.
The Oneonta Trail is 8.3 miles from Larch Mountain Road to Gorge 400 trail. This trail follows Oneonta Creek through big trees and lush undergrowth. Before reaching Triple Falls, 2.1 miles from the Gorge 400 Trail, Bridges cross the creek twice. Oneonta Falls is the next waterfall before racing the 400 trail connection. There are six trail junctions on the Oneonta Trail, with Franklin Ridge Trail and Multnomah Spur Trail used in both loops shown on the map below. These connector trails don’t have spectacular falls but meander through lush forests. The Gorge 400 follows the Historic Columbia River Highway with many views of the Gorge.
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