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Wahkeena Falls sign

The two RV Gypsies and Karen's sister
at Wahkeena Falls
July 28, 2013

Wahkeena Falls is a 242-foot waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge in the state of Oregon. The waterfall is unlike nearby Multnomah Falls in that the water does not directly plunge to the ground. Wahkeena Falls, has a more subtle cascading flow. All of the falls in the Columbia River Gorge have been featured in numerous travel guides and in photography books.

The name Wahkeena is an English transliteration of a Native American (reportedly Yakama) phrase meaning most beautiful.

Wahkeena Falls is along the Historic Columbia River Highway, about 13 miles east of Troutdale, Oregon.

  • Distance: 1.4 miles round trip to the top, 0.4 round trip to the bridge

  • Elevation gain: 850 feet

The trail starts with some beautiful stonework and a wooden bridge over Wahkeena Creek. The two RV Gypsies were careful to take the path to the right because the trail to the left leads to Multnomah Falls, where already went earlier. As the two RV Gypsies followed the trail, it climbed in one long switchback to a stone bridge at the base of Wahkeena Falls. There was a a bit of spray on the trail here, which is said to exist year-round. The two RV Gypsies came to a large log that was cut away to clear the trail after it had fallen down the falls sometime in the past.

After a bit, the two RV Gypsies looked across the valley at the trail they just traveled and they saw old stonework that has slid from the trail. They took a brief rest on a nearby bench, which also made a good turnaround spot for people who were tired, or pressed for time.

From here, the trail went up a steep section, climbing about 400 feet in about half-a-mile. The guidebook referenced 10 switchbacks, but the two RV Gypsies counted 12. There were beautiful rock walls, another bench cemented into a wall and better views the higher the two RV Gypsies climbed. The most alert hikers might find a Lego cemented into one of the walls.

At the top of this first climb, the two RV Gypsies crested a ridge and followed the pavement out to the point, called Lemmon's Viewpoint. A plaque here commemorated a firefighter who gave his life fighting forest fires near here. The views from the point were really good up and down the river.

As the two RV Gypsies reached this spot, they thought it made a pretty good turnaround for them. On the other hand, better stuff waits for those who are willing to venture a bit farther. There's an abandoned trail to the top of Wahkeena Falls that's not really for the faint of heart. The hike to Fairy Falls and beyond is on a very well maintained safe trail.

Wahkeena Falls sign
Wahkeena Falls sign

Below is the water from Wahkeena Falls as it rumbled by the roadside.

the water from Wahkeena Falls as it rumbles by the roadside
the water from Wahkeena Falls as it rumbles by the roadside

Views of Wahkeena Falls from a bridge by the roadside

Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Karen Duquette and her sister Ilse at Wahkeena Falls

Then the two RV Gypsies took the trail down to the bottom of the falls, which is much shorter than the steep trail to the top of the falls. Less people were taking this lower trail on this date.

the trail to Wahkeena Falls
Ilse and Lee walking to Wahkeena Falls
Lee Duquette on the trail to Wahkeena Falls

The view of Wahkeena Falls from the lower trail was absolutely gorgeous.

Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls

A view of the two RV Gypsies' toad as they returned to the parking lot at Wahkeena Falls.

the two RV Gypsies' truck

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