Multnomah Falls
Western Gorge, Oregon
Multnomah Falls (photographer: Micheal Drewry)
Hike Details
Type:
Out and back
Distance:
2.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
700 feet
Difficulty:
Easy
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Yes
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
WaterfallWaterfallBeautiful Views
This trail begins at Multnomah Falls trailhead and climbs 0.2 mile to the Benson Bridge, built in 1914 by one of the builders of the old highway. Beyond the bridge, the asphalt trail switchbacks up steeply for another mile to a ridge crest. Look for Columbia River views as you ascend. From the top, the trail drops slightly to a junction with a trail labeled "viewpoint". The asphalt follows the side path to the Multnomah Falls Upper Viewpoint, where a balcony sits at the lip of the falls looking down on the lodge and creek below.
 
History
Lumber baron and philanthropist Simon Benson donated the land that the falls sit upon and funded the construction of the iconic Benson Bridge in front of Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon and the Columbia Gorge's most recognizable natural landmark. Benson's generosity later helped citizens work with timber companies in the 1940s and 1950s to secure protection of some of the Gorge's most iconic waterfalls.

Driving Directions

Multnomah Falls Trailhead:  From the west on I-84 take Exit #31/Multnomah Falls. Park in the parking lot and walk under the footbridge to Multnomah Falls Lodge. From the east on I-84, take Exit #35 toward Historic Hwy/Ainsworth State Park. Continue west for 4 miles on the Historic Hwy until you reach the parking area. Alternatively from the east or west, take I-84 to Exit #28/Bridal Veil and drive east on the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Multnomah Falls Lodge parking area.

Community Connection

Lyle Cherry Orchard’s trailhead is located approximately one mile from the Gorge town of Lyle and is home to the “Lyle” sign that sits above the community. Since this preserve was opened to the public the Lyle Cherry Orchard has provided the community with an accessible natural space right in their back yard. The sunny and dry preserve is the perfect hiking spot to visit during the rainier fall days in the western gorge. Visitors from the Gorge and beyond recreate on Lyle Cherry Orchard and in turn support the local economy.

Photo: View of town of Lyle from Lyle Cherry Orchard (Debbie Asakawa)

Preserve Story

The property where Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve lies currently was once grazing land for cattle and as the name suggests the eastern part of the preserve held a cherry orchard. The orchard and its trees were well abandoned by the time Nancy Russell purchased the property piece by piece in the 1990’s and later donated it to Friends in 2009. Nancy purchased the property when it came up for sale because it was within key viewing areas on the Oregon side of the Gorge and would have most likely become subdivided for development.

The land is also home to remnants of Lyle Convict Road, a demonstration road built by Sam Hill to convince Washington legislators to fund a Columbia River Highway. When Washington showed no interest in Sam’s project, he invited the entire Oregon legislature to his Maryhill estate to see his "Good Roads" work and Oregon quickly agreed to build on their side of the river what is today the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The trail at Lyle Cherry Orchard was started in when Friends' founder Nancy Russell purchased the property and has been open to the public and maintained Friends and its land trust ever since. In 2019, Washington Trails Association started work to reroute some parts of the trail and add new trail to explore for the benefit of Gorge residents.

In 2013, the land trust and volunteers removed a dilapidated house and outbuildings on the southwestern end of the property. Countless hours were spent removing building materials, old vehicles, garbage, and debris. In 2015 volunteers removed over 1,700 feet of fencing material on the property to allow for the free movement of wildlife across the landscape. Without the help of Friends volunteers and Gorge community members, projects like this would not be possible.

Photos: Before and after cleanup at Lyle Cherry Orchard (Friends' archive)