I’ve visited mossy places all around the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. This Spring I got a chance to venture further from home to see the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland Oregon.
A visit to the Columbia River Gorge would not be complete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Multnomah Falls. It’s intensely popular — I’ll say more about that later — and for good reason. You have an unobstructed view of the Falls from something like a half mile away. The 640 feet tall Falls actually consists of a tall upper fall of 542 feet and a lower fall of 69 feet. It’s the tallest waterfall in Oregon. Unlike some falls that dry up in late summer, Multnomah Falls runs year around because its feed by both an underground spring and the snow runoff.
In 1914, lumber baron and philanthropist Simon Benson hired Italian stonemasons to build a viewing bridge so visitors could get a closer look at the falls. Benson’s aesthetic instincts were right on, as it’s a romantic arc of a bridge. I highly recommend walking the 1/4 mile to Benson’s footbridge as its a grand view. I don’t recommend going much further the footbridge as I explain below.
Visiting Notes for Multnomah Falls: I’d avoid the trail to the top of the Falls, for two reasons. One it’s extremely crowded and two it’s super steep. I was worried I’d see a tourist have a heart attack!
Honestly, the trail was filled with many who don’t ordinarily hike. The steep 1.1-mile trek looked like it’d put one of them in an early grave. There are beautiful trees, mosses, and views from the paved trail, but it’s no nature experience. We had only three days in the Columbia River Gorge and I was frustrated that we’d spend half a day on the busiest trail in all of Oregon.
Multnomah Falls receives two million visitors a year. It reminded me a great deal of Yosemite for that reason. Go on a weekday if possible. Avoid going in the summer months. We visited in early April and found it was all well organized for the visitor; there is a giant parking lot, bathrooms, National Park Rangers to provide info on the Columbia River Gorge overall, and a beautiful historic restaurant at the lodge people. However, official sources say the parking lot fills up 100% in the summer months and they often close the gate and raise a “closed” sign to keep people from exiting from the Columbia River Highway.
I Heart Moss features the moss, forest and waterfall photos of photographer Karen Nierlich. For nature lovers, we have a gift and jewelry shop which helps support the art project. There you’ll find nature charm necklaces such as twigs, acorns, squirrels, antlers, foxes, and other gifts for birthdays, holidays, bridesmaids and other special occasions.