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Multnomah Falls-Devils Rest Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
Beacon Rock, Hamilton Mountain, Table Mountain, and Mt. Adams from the viewpoint below Devils Rest (bobcat)
Western trillium (Trillium ovatum) near Multnomah Falls (bobcat)
Wiesendanger Falls, Larch Mountain Trail (bobcat)
Foliage of Starry Solomon plume in the fall, Devils Rest Trail (bobcat)
“A pox on he who vandals me” - top of the Primrose Path (bobcat)
Vine maple in the fall, Primrose Path (bobcat)
Fairy Falls, on the Wahkeena Trail (bobcat)
The loop route from Multnomah Falls to Devils Rest (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Multnomah Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Devils Rest
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2595 feet
  • High point: 2,445 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: All year, except when there is low-level snow
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Not above the lower trails
Nettles

Contents

Hike Description

This loop offers a comprehensive visit to much of the terrain in the west Columbia River Gorge and entails a complete loop without any trail repetition. You’ll see several beautiful waterfalls, get views from high perches, and scramble down a resurrected user trail in the zone of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. The hike is a decent conditioner, with good elevation gain and some unpeopled stretches of trail. Bear in mind that the recommended connector down from Devils Rest, the whimsical Primrose Path, is very steep and can also be brushy, with several logs to step over.

The trail begins at Multnomah Falls Lodge, a historic building built to serve early automobile travelers in 1925. From a photographer's viewpoint, get a head on vista of both the lower and main tiers of Multnomah Falls and the picturesque span of the Benson Bridge. From here, the trail is a gently sloped 2/10 mile paved path to the Benson Bridge, put in place in 1914 by Simon Benson, one of the builders of the old highway. This part of the trail has one switchback. You'll pass below a rock net and can look up to see the seasonal Shady Creek Falls, which splash down a cliff just west of Multnomah Falls.

Beyond the bridge, the asphalt trail switches up steeply for another mile to a ridgecrest (there are 11 switchbacks to be exact). At the first switchback, you'll come to the Larch Mountain-Gorge Trail Junction. After the Eagle Creek Fire, logging crews cut many of the trees on this slope and the views are more open. At the third switchback, a once shaded viewpoint with a bench offers a view to Multnomah Falls. At the fourth switchback, a scree slope shelters a busy colony of pikas, which tend to disappear when the midday crowds show up. As you ascend higher on the slope, look for Columbia River views. Post fire, the trail seems more precipitous and the drop-offs more lethal as much of the buffering understory was incinerated during the blaze. At the crest, you'll see a few trees that were killed by the 2017 fire. From the top, the trail drops slightly to a signed junction. The asphalt trail follows a side path that switchbacks down twice to the Multnomah Falls Upper Viewpoint, a balcony of sorts at the lip of the falls looking down on the lodge and the less motivated visitors below. The ten-foot uppermost tier of Multnomah Falls splashes down into a shady pool encased by columnar basalt here.

On returning to the main trail, turn upcreek and cross a rock-faced culvert over Multnomah Creek. The trail passes Lower, Middle and Upper Dutchman Falls, followed by a unique trip through a creek-washed overhang called Dutchman Tunnel. Just beyond the tunnel, you'll come to Wiesendanger Falls. (A plaque honoring Albert Wiesendanger, a Forest Service ranger, can be found in Dutchman Tunnel.) The trail switchbacks four times above Wiesendanger Falls, and soon passes the lip of pretty Ecola Falls. The tread is rocky in places, but the climb isn't nearly as steep as it was in the beginning. Views up Multnomah Creek from here reveal a scorched understory and blackened tree trunks. Another quarter mile brings you to a trail junction with the Wahkeena Trail before the another creek bridge. Turn right on the Wahkeena Trail here.

It's about a mile of uphill to the next junction. Gradually ascend a steep, scorched slope above Multnomah Creek, getting views to the Columbia River through a now open understory. You'll round the nose of a ridge in an area of crown fire where Oregon grape, trailing blackberry, and bracken are making a speedy comeback. Then cross rushing Shady Creek, which splits around an alder just above the trail. When you reach the junction with the Devils Rest Trail #420C, make a sharp left.

The Devils Rest Trail takes six switchbacks up along Shady Creek to reach a shallow bowl of large Douglas-firs and hemlocks. At a break in the trees, you'll see over to the prominence of Devils Rest. Hike along the rim of the Wahkeena Bowl, getting views of the cliff faces and scree slopes below Devils Rest. Pass the junction with a short spur that leads out to gated Multnomah Basin Road. Western hemlocks dominate the forest on this rim, and you'll pass through a grove that didn't even experience a ground burn. The forest opens up for a view north to Silver Star Mountain. Drop to cross two footbridges below a set of springs, and hike up through a thicket of devil's club. A spur trail leads right for a clifftop view west towards Yeon Mountain on the Oregon side of the Gorge and Hamilton Mountain and Table Mountain on the Washington side. Back on the main trail, drop and rise to look for a faint user trail just after an obvious survey marker. The side trail leads to a pinnacled clifftop promontory with extensive views including Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Skamania Island and the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. The main Devils Rest Trail veers left, and then rises steeply from an old logging road to a trail junction. Go right here to the largely unburned summit of Devils Rest with its mossy but viewless arrangement of boulders.

Now comes a short but rugged descent. (If you're unwilling to attempt this, another choice is a more extended loop down from Devils Rest using Foxglove Way - see the Devils Rest via Wahkeena Hike.) Just east of the boulders, the course of the Primrose Path descends steeply to the Angels Rest Trail. On a tree, you’ll see one of the iconic Basil Clark signs posted – a sledding devil captioned “A pox on he who vandals me” (and nobody has!). The route descends steeply and can be slippery when wet. A few noble firs are dotted around Devils Rest, and there are a couple near the Primrose Path here. A sign warns you that this is “not a real trail,” and you will be stepping over several logs. The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire raged through here and no canopy remains, the resulting luxuriant understory now dominated by fireweed and thimbleberry. Looking right, you’ll see a rocky bluff below Devils Rest. A “Beware of Dens” sign alludes to the presence of a nearby ursine hibernation shelter. The gradient gets easier as you pass through a dense thicket of young cherry trees. At a rocky outcropping that offers a panorama of the western Columbia River Gorge, the trail makes a sharp left. Next, you’ll pass a vicous rattlesnake coiled on a tree, with more good views to the Columbia River appearing. The trail makes a sharp jink left, departing from the original route of the Primrose Path, this adjustment soon indicated by a “Dispruptive Way” sign. When you arrive at the Angels Rest Trail, bear right.

The trail immediately switchbacks down, offering views to the Wahkeena Bowl with most of its green canopy intact. Make five more descending switchbacks to traverse out of the crown fire zone. At a break in the trees, you can get a view across the river to Archer Mountain, the only place on the Washington side of the Columbia that was affected by the Eagle Creek Fire. As you cross a rocky outcrop, you'll hear a large spring gushing forth below the trail. Round a corner, and catch a glimpse down to Fairy Falls across tumbling Wahkeena Creek. Reach a lovely cedar bench, and pass above gushing Wahkeena Spring to reach the Wahkeena-Angels Rest Trail Junction.

Now go left to make three switchbacks down to a 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, a beautiful fan waterfall right next to the trail. Six more steep switchbacks take you down rushing Wahkeena Creek and cedar-shaded Wahkeena Canyon before you cross the creek on a new footbridge at an open mossy face. Follow the creek into a narrow defile where a seasonal waterfall sometimes splashes down a massive dome of basalt, and recross the creek.

Ahead, you'll see Lemmons Viewpoint, named after a fire fighter who lost his life in the line of duty. Vistas extend across the Columbia River to Cape Horn, the Prindle Cliffs, Archer Mountain, Hamilton Mountain, and Beacon Rock. From here, the now paved pathway drops in 11 stone-walled switchbacks before reaching the old west junction with the abandoned Perdition Trail at a large Douglas-fir. The trail traverses west from here to cross the stone bridge in front of Wahkeena Falls, which may douse you with heavy spray. Keep traversing west, and then switchback down to a footbridge over Wahkeena Creek. Reach 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 leafy maple trees.

Keep straight to pick up the Return Trail #442, and walk above the old highway under Douglas-firs and big-leaf maples. Hike across a licorice-fern cloaked scree slope, and then drop below a dripping rock face covered with maidenhair fern. The trail descends under a basalt overhang and then leads below a stand of burned maple trees. A rock net protects the highway from tumbling boulders, now more frequent since the Eagle Creek Fire. Finally, you'll make a short descent to reach the old highway just west of the Multnomah Falls Lodge.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash in the waterfall areas
  • For parking near the Multnomah Falls Lodge between May 24 and Sept. 5, 2022, a Timed Use Permit ($2 fee) will be required for each personal vehicle accessing federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35).
  • For the I-84 parking area, between late May and early September, you will need to purchase reserved tickets from Recreation.gov.
  • Restrooms, restaurant, visitor center at Multnomah Falls Lodge

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
    • Maps do not show the Primrose Path
  • Trail Maps (Friends of Multnomah Falls)
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428 and Bonneville Dam, OR #429
  • 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
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • 35 Hiking Trails: Columbia River Gorge by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge, Volume One: Oregon by Zach Forsyth

More Links


Contributors

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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.