You know that feeling when you just need a waterfall in your life?

We know it! Essentially, waterfalls are the ultimate reward for a hike and luckily, you don’t have to travel too far to get your fix. There are a bunch of waterfalls near Portland thanks to the Columbia River Gorge.

Now if you only knew which were amazing and actually open… We have you covered!

Hikes to Waterfalls Near Portland—That Are Actually OPEN!


Why “actually open?”

Why would a waterfall not be available and open the public? Well, unfortunately, 2017 was a rough year for the Columbia River Gorge. A teenager lit a firecracker during a fire ban and before anyone could blink an eye over 50,000 acres went up in flames.

Many of the area’s waterfalls, hikes, and vista were closed. Till this day, there isn’t word on when some of the areas will reopen. As of now, there are some trails open, and we will keep a close eye as more become available for public use again.

For now, we have some great waterfalls near Portland for you to hike to get out of the city and get outdoors…

Multnomah Falls

Distance: 2 miles

Type of hike: Out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Best Hiked: March through November

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, right? Not to knock Multnomah or anything, she’s a beaut! But this will be the busiest Portland waterfall you’ll find on the list.

Its popularity is no doubt because of it’s proximity to the road and being a waterfall near Portland—It’s visited by Portland visitors and locals alike. While the actual hike is 2 miles long, should you not want to hike up and over the bridge, you could just see it from the base below, a mere few feet from the parking lot.

Those that are in a rush can still get a glimpse with a simple “hike” from the parking lot and not much more.

It’s majestic, no doubt gorgeous, and certainly worth the visit but there are plenty more waterfalls near Portland that aren’t so swamped with people to see.

If you want to see Multnomah and a bunch of other waterfalls in one big hike, there’s that option too! I’ll discuss that soon…

Dry Creek Falls

Distance: 4.4 miles

Type of hike: Out and back

Difficulty: Easy

Best Hiked: All year

Plunging over 70 feet off a basalt cliffside in a secluded amphitheater is a secret waterfall that is so easily skipped. Consider yourself in the know because not too many people make it out to this waterfall beside it being along the Columbia River Gorge.

The parking area is a bit more like you’re parking in someone’s backyard off their gravel trail but soon after, you’re trekking up gradually to the ambient sounds of Dry Creek Falls in the distance.

Dry Creek Falls in it's entire splendor

Dry Creek Falls

Along your way, you’ll likely see plenty of remnants of the 2017 fire that ripped through here, but luckily the trail is now open and safe for trekkers wanting to visit waterfalls near Portland.

The waterfall is a single drop fall and flows down a creek and eventually into the Columbia River Gorge. Don’t let the name fool you! It’s not dry, but it may not be gushing during the dry season, so try to hit this one after a bit of rain.

Latourell Falls (Lower & Upper)

Distance: 2 miles

Type of hike: Loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Best Hiked: April through October

Plunging to the basalt rocks below is quite a waterfall. Latourell Falls freefalls over 200ft from Latourell Creek creating an impressive single-dive waterfall. Being that it’s the closest of the waterfalls near Portland in the Columbia River Gorge, it’s a popular one to visit.

The best part of the falls? There’s more than one. There’s a two-tiers waterfall, aptly named, Upper Latourell Falls that’s on your loop that greets you with more lichen ridden volcanic rock and lush greenery.

If you’re low on time or only up for a quick walk, Latourell Falls is just a few minutes off the trailhead. Upper Latourell Falls requires you to hike further in and takes you through a loop back around.

Bridal Veil Falls

Distance: .5 miles

Type of hike: Out and back

Difficulty: Easy

Best Hiked: March through October

Bridal Veil Falls is hardly a hike at all but nonetheless, still worth visiting. After a short, downhill walk through some plants you DON’T want to touch (poison oak!) you’ll come to the 120-foot tall Bridal Veil Falls.

There’s a viewing deck here for convenience but the better views are getting down to the base of the water or better yet, on the massive boulder with the best view in the area.

The falls plunge from the nearby Larch Mountain and meander through cliffs and just over the edge into the pool below before leading itself to the Columbia River.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

To make your walk a bit longer if you’re trying to stretch those legs, there’s an interpretive forest trail option you can continue walking down from the initial trailhead.

Note: You should NOT try to see the falls from the Historic Highway which runs just above the waterfalls. There isn’t a pedestrian pathway, and the road is very narrow as it is. The only way to see the falls is by following this trail.

Wahkeena Falls & Fairy Falls

Distance: 3.4 miles

Type of hike: Out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Best Hiked: April through November

Twisting and turning through a narrow gorge, this waterfall doesn’t make you wait too long to enjoy its beauty. Just a bit over a mile in and you’ll be right in front of it.

However, those who want a bit more, keep on hiking up a few switchbacks for a fantastic view of the Columbia River Gorge. From up here, you can scramble around a bit at the upper parts of the waterfall and even head a little further to see Fairy Falls. I highly recommend the extra stretch. Fairy Falls is not as big as the rest on this list but its unique features make it a must see amongst the other waterfalls near Portland.

Note: While these waterfalls are now open, it’s still advisable to take extra care as there are still hazardous conditions like loose rocks and fallen tree limbs.

Horsetail Falls & Ponytail Falls

Distance: 2.4 miles

Type of hike: Out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Best Hiked: March through November

There is no excuse not to see Horsetail Falls as it’s lives adjacent to Multnomah Falls. It even has it’s own carpark and being right next to the road makes it an easy stop. Surrounded by beautiful green foliage and shoreline rocks to admire, this waterfall had me staying longer than anticipated.

Oh but wait… there’s more.

Continuing on the path a short walk of 1.2 miles awaits perhaps the most majestic falls of them all, Ponytail Falls. After seeing all these other Columbia Gorge waterfalls, you may be secretly hoping to find one you could walk under and Ponytail Falls makes that happen!

Man admiring Ponytail Falls

You’re going to get wet

Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop (Updated)

Distance: 8 miles

Type of hike: Loop

Difficulty: Hard

Best Hiked: March through October

NOTE: This waterfall was open at the time this article was drafted but then was closed again April 11th, 2019 after a rock fall. Rumor is that there are efforts to reopen for summer 2019 but nothing is official yet. We will update further as we find out new information.

The Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop is a hike of verdant forest flanked with basalt cliffsides and the sounds of waterfalls in every direction, and it’s potentially the most epic hike with waterfalls near Portland. If you only have a day in the area, are up for a challenge and want nothing more than to chase waterfalls all day, THIS is your hike.

This hike has a lot of potential for customization. Many want to pass the crowds from Multnomah first, so they’ll start there. After a few minutes of hiking, the crowds lessen significantly, and it’s just you and the forest.

There is also another detour along the trail, and at points, it may get a bit confusing! I’d recommend using Maps.Me or Alltrails to keep to the trail or at the least can check where you’re headed.

Fair Falls with foot bridge

Fairy Falls

The hike not only features an incredible adventure through thick ferns, mossy volcanic cliffs and vegetation but you’ll also get served with numerous gorgeous waterfalls along the way. On this hike you’ll come across: Fairy Falls, Ecola Falls and Weisendanger, Upper Multnomah Falls and Dutchman Falls. In addition to these lesser known falls, you’ll also hike pass the main features, Wahkeena and most famous waterfall near Portland, Multnomah Falls.

This is a long one, the elevation gain is around 870 feet, and there will be some muddy spots, switchbacks, and mist from the waterfall. Wear the right clothing and shoes for this one!

Note: As with some of the other waterfalls on this list, you do still need to exercise caution on these hikes as there are still fallen tree limbs and crumbling rocks along the pathways.

Prepping to Hike The Waterfalls Near Portland

Hey, we like being detailed over here, so while some things on this list seem obvious, its a good reminder. Especially for those who may be visiting from out of the country and aren’t sure about the crazy weather we get here in Oregon. Here are some things you may want to bring on these hikes with you. It will definitely depend on the hike itself and when you’re actually going, so use your best judgment.

  • Raincoat – Regardless if it’s raining or not, you may need one due to misting from the falls. If it’s cold out, the last thing you want is to be a soggy mess.
  • Sunscreen – Parts of these hikes may be exposed and just because it may be a bit cloudy out, doesn’t mean you won’t get a bit crispy!
  • Hat – Protect that beautiful face… Or not.
  • Hiking shoes – Not all of the hikes are intense but if it’s been a bit rainy (totally typical for this area in case you’re not familiar!) then hiking shoes will come in handy for some slippery and muddy situations. You definitely don’t want to use open-toed shoes for these hikes.
  • Daypack – You’re hiking, you don’t want a purse or an uncomfortable and floppy bag, get a bag that will be comfortable and carry your extra items.
  • Water bottle – Get a reusable one for your trip! Less plastic equals a happier Earth.
  • Other reminders: A GoPro for any shots where you may get misted, sunglasses, and proper clothes for the weather—quick dry items are probably a good winner.

Which of these waterfalls near Portland are you most excited to see!?