Directions: Take I-84 East to the Corbett exit and take a left on the Old Highway. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road (there is a big sign) and follow it for 14 miles to the trailhead. If you are doing this as a shuttle first drop a car off at the Multnomah Falls parking area (see explanation below)
This hike can be done as an out and back (14+ miles) or shuttle (just over 7 miles), leaving one car at Multnomah Falls and one at the Larch Mountain Trailhead. We chose to do a shuttle since we were hiking on a day that was forecast to be 100 degrees. If you do decide to do this hike as an out and back please be prepared for over 4,000 feet of elevation gain and over 14 miles, it’s a hefty hike. We chose to start at the Larch Mountain Trailhead and hike downhill to Multnomah Falls.
From the parking area take the trail pointing you up to Sherrard Point. You’re going somewhat steeply uphill on a paved path with lots of stairs for a little over a quarter mile. Once at the top you will come to a fenced in viewpoint where, on a clear day, you will get great views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. As well as amazing views of the Gorge. In our opinion it’s one of the BEST viewpoints in all of the Gorge, it’s always worth the trip!
From the viewpoint head back down to the parking area and get on the trail that runs behind the bathrooms. You are now on Larch Mountain Trail and it’s ALL downhill. This trail is quite steep (you are loing 4,000+ feet of elevation) so it can be kind of hard on your knees and legs in general. The trail is mostly dirt and very rocky. You will be in a heavily wooded area for about a mile and a half when you come to a trail junction. Follow the signs that say Larch Mountain Trail and Multnomah Falls Lodge. From here you wind down even farther and will eventually come to a rock slide area. The trail opens up here as you now hike on shale for a bit before reentering the woods.
Soon you will start to hear Multnomah Creek and eventually see it. You will pass this creek a few times, some of the bridges are log and one is metal. There are a lot of waterfalls along this creek, you will probably see at least 5 unless it’s late in the summer and water levels are low. After you cross the creek and are on it’s left side you will pass by the top of Ecola Falls and soon come to Wiesendanger Falls. If the creek is low enough you can go off trail and make it to the base of this waterfall.
Continuing back on the main trail make sure you follow the signs for Larch Mountain Trail and Multnomah Falls Lodge and every intersection. After a while you will head uphill slightly to get onto the paved trail that takes you down to Multnomah Falls. This trail is marked by it’s 11 switchbacks that end at Benson Bridge. From here it’s just one more switchback and you’re at the base of the falls and can head to your car that you left in the parking lot. The paved switchback path is always VERY busy. You really need to pack your patience on this trail with the swarms of people.
Distance: 7.2 miles (moderate)
Elevation: 4010 feet of elevation loss. (This is hard on the legs but not bad on the lungs 😉)
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: Wouldn’t recommend this for young kids or older folks. Older kids should be just fine.
Bathrooms: Yes at both parking areas
Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass required at the Larch Mountain Trailhead
Seasons: Early summer through late fall. Check for road gate closures heading up to Larch Mountain.
Popular: Very popular when you get down towards Multnomah Falls. Not Bad otherwise.