Multnomah Falls, Oregon

If you take a drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway, you will see the Multnomah Falls somewhere between Dodson and Corbett. While the Multnomah Falls proudly wears the title of the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon, there is a veil of mystery surrounding its ranking among the waterfalls in the United States. Actually, that veil somewhat covers its precise height, too. The general public seems to agree on the 542-foot (165-meter) height of the upper falls and a 69-foot (21-meter) height of the lower falls. There is also a gradual but significant drop in elevation between the two parts of the falls, which measures at 9 feet (or 3 meters).

Interestingly, the Native Americans believed that the Multnomah Falls originated in the intention to win the heart of an ancient young princess who desired a concealed place to bathe in. Although the story sounds very romantic, the actual creator of the falls lies under Larch Mountain. Its underground springs are the constant, year-round source of water for the Multnomah Falls. In the winter the snowpack on the mountain melts and causes the flow of the falls to increase. The same happens with rainwater during the other three seasons of the year.

If you feel like visiting Multnomah Falls, you should definitely check out the Benson Footbridge. It is a footbridge made of stone and it has a length of 45 feet (or 14 meters); it allows visitors to cross to the other side of the gorge while walking 105 feet (or 32 meters) above the level of the lower cascade. The footbridge was named after Simon Benson, who owned the waterfall back in the day. He is the main reason for the existence of the footbridge today, as it was he who financed its construction in 1914. The same trail that leads up to the Benson Footbridge further goes to a platform located at the top of the upper section of the waterfall. From this observation platform visitors have the perfect elevated view on the entire Columbia Gorge. Additionally, Little Multnomah is also visible from the platform. Little Multnomah is located further upstream from the upper falls and it’s a small cascade. If you’re interested in seeing Little Multnomah alongside the main waterfall, you should definitely go up to the platform as you won’t be able to see it from ground level.

Once you feel tired from all that hiking and climbing (and you definitely will!), you can stop by the Multnomah Falls Lodge for a refreshing cup of coffee and a break from hiking. The Lodge was completed back in 1925 and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. The architect who designed the Lodge was A.E. Doyle – the same man who designed the Meier & Frank Building. The land on which the Lodge was constructed was donated to the City of Portland by the Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company.

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