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Wahkeena Falls is a powerful cascade in the midst of scenic terrain and meandering trails. Among the highlights of the Columbia River Gorge, this 242-foot (73-meter) waterfall features in many photography books and travel guides. See how the foamy white cascade of water massages the cliff face, before continuing on its way downstream.
Embark on the 1.4-mile (2.2-kilometer) round-trip trail that curves through forested landscape toward the falls. The whole family should find this paved trail moderately easy to walk. Cross the stone bridge in front of the chute and capture photos of the mighty flow of water. Anticipate spray, evident year-round due to the proximity to the falls. In winter, the walkway can be quite icy.
Appreciate the diverse forms of the falls, which alternate between shapes including a horseshoe and a plunge, on its way downstream. Continue along the trail toward Multnomah Falls, which has more of a direct drop than the subtle tiers of Wahkeena Falls. On the way, the path has many idyllic spots with spectacular views of the Columbia River and winding streams.
Climb the trail to Lemmon’s Viewpoint, which offers a panoramic view of the Columbia River. It has a plaque devoted to a firefighter who lost his life in a forest fire nearby. Relax on a large wooden bench and enjoy a picnic in these picturesque surrounding.
Note that the falls remains strong year-round from its large water source. Its name is said to derive from the Native American Yakama language, meaning “Most Beautiful.”
About a 30-minute drive northeast of the falls is the Bonneville Dam, which features underwater views of fish swimming up ladders to bypass the dam. Try to identify salmon, sturgeon and other fish passing in front of a viewing glass as they travel up the ladders.
Wahkeena Falls is on the southern flank of the Columbia River in Oregon. Drive northeast from Bridal Veil for 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) to reach this waterfall, which is just south of the Benson State Recreation Area. Leave your car in the parking lot beside the beginning of the trail.
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