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Fairy Falls Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

(Redirected from Fairy Falls Hike)
TKO put tools to trail here.png
Fairy Falls (Steve Hart)
Resting at Fairy Falls (Steve Hart)
View upriver from Vista Point (bobcat)
Looking back down towards Vista Point from the Vista Point Trail (bobcat)
The loop up Wahkeena Canyon on the Wahkeena and Vista Point Trails (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Wahkeena TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Wahkeena Spring
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 3.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 1495 feet
  • High point: 1,575 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

This hike up the Wahkeena Canyon allows you to take in all the remarkable features of a stream that is less than a mile long. Wahkeena Creek issues from massive Wahkeena Spring and tumbles precipitously to soon be joined by another stream fed by a copious spring that spouts a little farther west below the Angels Rest Trail. Then the unnamed creek that hosts pretty Fairy Falls joins the spate as it plunges through a narrow defile and over three-tiered, 242-foot Wahkeena Falls. A lollipop loop takes you on the Vista Point Trail, which offers some far-reaching views, and then down to Wahkeena Spring. Wahkeena Creek hosts three endemic species: the Wahkeena Falls flightless stonefly (Nanonemoura wahkeena), the Wahkeena Creek caddisfly (Neothremma andersoni), and the Wahkeena Creek amphipod (Stygobromus wahkeenensis), a small subterranean shrimp-like crustacean described in 2001. There's almost 1,500 feet in elevation gain on this hike in about 1 3/4 miles, so be prepared to find your aerobic groove! The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire burned over most of this area, but the crown fire sections are small and the understory is making a rapid comeback.

Walk up to the viewing plaza just above the parking area on the highway. You can appreciate the tiers of Wahkeena Falls from here, but in spring and summer, the view is partially obscured by left maple trees. Head to your right, and cross a footbridge over Wahkeena Creek. Then make a traverse on a paved trail into Douglas-fir/hemlock woods before making a switchback up. The trail traverses to cross the stone bridge in front of Wahkeena Falls, which may douse you with heavy spray on a windy day. A bench makes a good resting spot or a turnaround if you're pressed for time.

From here, the trail starts up a steep section, climbing about 600 feet in about half a mile. Continue west to pass the former junction with the closed Perdition Trail at a large Douglas-fir. From here, the pathway, which is still paved, rises in 11 stone-walled switchbacks to a junction. Take the short spur to the right to reach Lemmons Viewpoint, named after an Oregonian fire fighter who lost his life in a Nevada wildfire. Vistas extend across the Columbia River to Cape Horn, the Prindle Cliffs, Archer Mountain, Hamilton Mountain, and Beacon Rock (For a description of a short but sketchy off trail excursion near the viewpoint, see The Necktie.).

This is the end of the pavement. Enter a defile with a massive dome of basalt to your right. Sometimes a seasonal waterfall splashes down this face. Cross a footbridge, and hike up the west side of Wahkeena Creek. Recross the creek on a new footbridge at an open mossy face. Six more steep switchbacks take you up rushing Wahkeena Creek and cedar-shaded Wahkeena Canyon. You'll arrive at Fairy Falls, a beautiful fan waterfall right next to the trail. Day hikers often tarry here to take photos and imbibe the negative ions. Now make five switchbacks up a burned slope with the conifer canopy still intact to reach the junction with the Vista Point Trail #419.

Turn left here and take the Vista Point Trail #419, which may be running a channel of Fairy Creek. Rock hop the creek, and make a traverse in burned woods with a very brushy understory where thimbleberry dominates. The spur to Vista Point leads steeply down to the left. From the viewpoint, there are views east past Beacon Rock and the Bonneville Dam, while the Prindle Cliffs are directly across. On a clear day, you can see the top of Silver Star Mountain and also Sturgeon Rock peeking above Archer Mountain. On the Oregon shore of the Columbia River below is the small delta of Wahkeena Creek and Fashion Reef. As you continue on the loop, switchbacking up three times through the thimbleberries, look for blooming irises along the trail in spring. Reach the upper junction with the Wahkeena Trail at 1,575 feet in elevation.

Keep right to descend a bouldery slope on the Wahkeena Trail and, as you arrive at a lovely sword fern and oxalis-carpeted bowl, keep your eyes peeled for a trail sign being eaten by a tree. Pass some large Douglas-firs and hemlocks, and come to the Wahkeena-Angels Rest Trail Junction. Stay left here for the short side trip to Wahkeena Spring, which gushes impressively out of the hillside in full force into a shady cedar glade.

Return to the Wahkeena-Angels Rest Trail Junction, and go left to make three switchbacks down to the lower junction with the Vista Point Trail #419. Staying left, you'll descend five switchbacks on a burned slope with the conifer canopy still intact. Arrive at Fairy Falls, and follow the Wahkeena Trail down Wahkeena Canyon to the trailhead.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Trail Maps (Friends of Multnomah Falls)]
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • Multnomah County SAR map

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge, Volume One: Oregon by Zach Forsyth

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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