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Hiking Multnomah Falls

September 19, 2011

Sometimes, capturing the drama of a scene in a photo can be difficult. At least for an amateur photographer like myself. Professionals might find it a little easier, but I definitely find it hard to accomplish.

For example, the picture below seems to show a simple stream that is relatively unimpressive:

Unimpressive, that is, until you realize that the view is from the top of this:

Multnomah Falls

The picture is of Multnomah Falls, one of the top tourist attractions in Oregon (tying for first with Spirit Mountain Casino — we’re so proud). Located along the Columbia River Gorge, it is the state’s tallest waterfall and among the tallest year-round waterfalls in the United States. The river drops 542 feet in the upper falls and an additional 69 feet in the lower falls.

People starting up the trail to the top of Multnomah Falls

A footbridge, constructed in 1914, lets people get a closer look at the upper falls. Adventurous souls continue past the bridge to hike to the top of the falls on a U.S. Forest Service trail. The trip to the top is actually longer than the Forest Service would lead you to believe. A sign at the base of the falls states that you will reach the top of the falls in one mile. But the one-mile marker comes into view at the seventh of 11 marked switchbacks on the trail (the Forest Service also doesn’t count all of the switchbacks on the route, giving you a false sense of being closer to the end than you really are).

From start to finish, the trail is actually 1.25 miles and rises 700 feet through dense groves of hemlock and fir trees, moss and ferns. The trail, which hugs the mountain and includes a steep drop off on one side for much of the hike, is wide enough for people to pass each other and there are several wide spots along the way for people to stop and rest. Dogs on leashes are invited to make the hike, as well.

During my recent visit to the falls, Cooper happily followed me up the trail and explored everything within reach of his little nose. He was even willing to pose for a picture near a footbridge that crosses the water just upriver from the falls. My desire to take photos apparently bored him, though, and he quickly found a stick to keep him occupied.

He was so proud of it that he was determined to carry it all the way back down the trail:

I eventually had to take it away from him (which he was NOT happy about) because we had to keep stopping so he could readjust his grip. When we returned to the car, though, he didn’t care about the stick anymore. Just like a kid.

Once we got to the bottom, I decided I wanted another picture of Cooper. As I asked him to sit with the falls in the background, others started taking pictures of him, as well. There’s something a little odd and disconcerting about strangers taking pictures of your dog, but maybe that’s just me …

Cooper, on the other hand, lapped up every bit of the attention. Of course, he’s under the assumption that people were put on this earth to worship him.

Even when you factor in weird people who take random pictures of your dog, the hike to the top of Multnomah Falls is one you don’t want to miss. You will want to make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. You will also want to make sure you’re prepared for the hike to take a little time. The trail is pretty steep, but there are places to rest along the way — including a few benches. You’ll also want to give yourself time to take plenty of pictures. The trail offers amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge that you won’t want to pass up.

From → Balance, Cooper

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  1. Another Look at Multnomah Falls | lovelifeinc

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