Columbia Gorge Weekend

Multnomah Falls


MAY 17 - 18, 2008   With snow lingering in the mountains late this year, I decided to drive down to the Columbia Gorge to hike Dog Mountain, a popular wildflower hike with stunning views of the Columbia River.  Two years ago I wouldn't have thought twice about driving so far for a day hike, but the price of gas being what it is ($3.93 a gallon at the time I made this trip), I didn't feel I could justify it this year.  So I expanded my plans to include an overnight stay at a campground and a bonus hike on the Eagle Creek Trail the following day. 

It was sunny and hot when I finished my hike on Dog Mountain, so after setting up camp at Ainsworth State Park on the Oregon side of the Gorge, I decided to spend the evening at Multnomah Falls where there would be natural outdoor air conditioning.  The falls are a big tourist attraction, but they are none the less spectacular for the commercialization.  The cool mist coming off the falls was refreshing and welcome after the hot, dry hike I had done earlier that day.  With the evening still young, I found myself hiking up to the top of the falls.  A steep 1.2 miles and 600' feet gain later, I discovered that the view from the top of the falls was not very impressive.  The creek that feeds the falls was very pretty, though, and the walk through the woods was pleasant, so it was not time wasted.  By the time I returned to the lower viewpoint, the sheer rock face of the cliff that the falls spill over was glowing in the warm light of the setting sun. 

Ainsworth State Park has a pretty campground that is quiet, comfortable, and convenient to both hikes I did this weekend.  All was not so peaceful, however, when trains came thundering through the area several times that night.  It is unfortunate that the park is so close to the train tracks, but the campground has easy access to Trail No. 400 and several walk-in camp sites.