Fairy Falls Hike
From Portland Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Wahkeena Trailhead
- End point: Fairy Falls
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Distance: 2.0 miles round trip
- Elevation gain: 800 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: All
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
Wahkeena Falls is one of the more popular destinations in the gorge and there's a reason for that. Wahkeena Falls has a beauty all its own. It's not a huge, single fall like Multnomah or Latourell and there's no lodge or fancy freeway exit to draw people. Wahkeena Creek falls this way and that, now a plunge, now a horsetail, now a cascade. It's just beautiful.
The trail starts with some beautiful stonework and a wooden bridge over Wahkeena Creek. Make sure you're headed right here. The trail to the left leads to Multnomah Falls. The trail climbs in one long switchback to a stone bridge at the base of Wahkeena Falls. Expect a bit of spray on the trail here year-round. In winter, things can get really icy. A large log here was cut away to clear the trail after it fell down the falls. After the falls, look across the valley at the trail you just traveled and you'll see old stonework that's slid from the trail. A bench makes a good resting spot, or a turnaround if you're pressed for time.
From here, the trail starts up a pretty steep section, climbing about 600' in about half a mile. I have several guidebooks that reference 10 switchbacks, but I counted 12. There are beautiful rock walls, another bench cemented into a wall and better views the higher you climb. The most alert hikers will find a Lego cemented into one of the walls. At the top of this first climb, you'll crest a ridge. Follow the pavement out to the point, called Lemmon's Viewpoint. A plaque here commemorates a firefighter who gave his life fighting forest fires near here. The views from the point are really good up and down the river.
The main trail turns to dirt here and quickly enters Wahkeena Canyon. This is a very narrow canyon, just wide enough for the creek and the trail. Every step is up, but every step is rewarding as the creek tumbles passed. There are two species of waterborne animals that live in this creek and no where else in the world. The trail switches back a few times and soon you'll reach Fairy Falls, a beautiful fan form falls right next to the trail. There's a bench here to relax on while you take in the views.
- Maps: Hike Finder
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Guidebooks that cover this hike
- Day Hike! Columbia Gorge, by Seabury Blair, Jr.
- Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
- 35 Hiking Trails, Columbia River Gorge, by Don & Roberta Lowe
- Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe
- Hiking the Columbia River Gorge - 1st and 2nd Editions, by Russ Schneider
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan
- Stevefromdodge (creator)