Larch Mountain Crater Loop
Western Gorge, Oregon
Old growth forest on Larch Mountain (photographer: Oliver Dalton)
alert Trail Alert, Sep 17, 2021: From U.S. Forest Service, Sept. 14, 2021 — Work to repair a section of Larch Mountain Trail #441 near Multnomah Falls will begin Sept. 20 and is anticipated to take 4-5 weeks. During this time, the section of trail beyond Benson Bridge will be closed to public access. There will also be intermittent closures of the entire trail, including Benson Bridge, while contractors mobilize equipment and supplies. The Historic Lodge, including the restaurant and gift shop, will remain open during construction.

This emergency trail repair is needed because tension cracks have developed along approximately 100 feet of the Larch Mountain Trail just beyond Benson Bridge, leading to slope instability and the potential for failure.

Prior to the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017, this section of trail did not show any signs of failure. The current instability is likely the result of post-fire effects including significant changes in vegetation leading to increased ground water flow through the rock mass on which the trail was built. Increased groundwater flow and extreme temperature events have led to cracking within the rock mass supporting the trail.
alert Trail Alert, Nov 1, 2020: Larch Mountain Recreation Area is closed for the winter; Larch Mountain Road snow gate has been closed for the winter. Generally from November - June, the road is closed about halfway up the mountain at the snow gate.
Hike Details
Type:
Loop
Distance:
7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
1100 feet
Difficulty:
Moderate
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
No
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
Wildflowers
This hike starts at the Larch Mountain Trailhead (#441), at the southwest corner of the parking lot. This area of the Columbia Gorge trails is one of the few open to mountain bikes, although it doesn't seem to see a lot of use. You'll start by passing through a campground, then drop down somewhat steeply through a dense forest, and cross a closed road and a large campsite.
 
Two miles down, turn right on to the Multnomah Creek Way Trail (#444). Continue down to a log bridge over Multnomah Creek, 0.2 miles from the trail junction. Just across the bridge, take Multnomah Creek Spur Trail (#446), then stay to the right and continue on Multnomah Creek Way Trail (#444), traveling upstream. Pass through an area that was once a lake, but has filled in with natural sediments to create a wetland.
 
The trail continues up switchbacks to the crater wall and an old logging railroad grade. It continues on about one mile to a junction with Oneonta Trail (#424); turn right and head up Oneonta Trail (#424) for almost a mile to Larch Mountain Road. Turn right here and hike up the road for 0.3 of a mile to your car.
 
- Hike descriptions were collaboratively written with the generous support of oregonhikers.org.


Directions & Travel Tips

Larch Mountain Trailhead:  From the west, travel east on I-84 to exit #18/Lewis and Clark State Park.At the end of the off-ramp, turn left (south) onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and follow the highway through Corbett. Two miles east of Corbett, the road forks. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road and follow the road 14 miles to the picnic area and trailhead. From the east, take I-84 west to Exit #22, Corbett Exit/NE Corbett Hill Road. Follow NE Corbett Hill Road until it intersects with East Historic Columbia River Highway. Turn left onto the Historic Highway and travel 5 miles until the road forks. Take a right onto Larch Mountain road and follow the road 14 miles to the picnic area and trailhead. Generally from November - June, the road is closed about halfway up the mountain at the snow gate.