Fairy Falls, Oregon

Fairy Falls in May 2010

One of the main attractions along the Columbia River Gorge is Wahkeena Falls. The 242′ falls is really stunning. What is not widely as advertised is Fairy Falls, which is upstream from Wahkeena Falls. Now let’s think about this…You start at the main road, the Historic Columbia River Highway. There’s a steady hike uphill to get to the most photogenic portion of Wahkeena Falls. If you continue along this trail, you’ll at some point find yourself at Fairy Falls. But this requires more steady hiking uphill. In just over a mile, you will have hiked up almost 500′ of elevation, so your legs are little to feel a little burn!

But it’s well worth it! The hike is not so impossibly difficult, and the falls are wildly photogenic. Most of the waterfalls in Oregon are surrounded by GREEN, and this waterfall is no exception. The ferns really do create an almost fairy-like setting.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  2. Look for the Wahkeena Falls parking lot as you’re driving along the highway. It will be to the west of the Multnomah Falls parking area.
  3. Start hiking up the paved trail to the viewpoint of Wahkeena Falls.
  4. You’ll cross the bridge over Wahkeena Creek, and continue along this path to Fairy Falls. It may seem like a long distance while you’re hiking uphill, but the way back down is easier!

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Fairy Falls?

Wahkeena Falls, Oregon

Wahkeena Falls in April 2008

Wahkeena Falls is one of the many waterfalls viewable directly from the Historic Columbia River Highway. There is clearly marked parking for the falls. The only slightly confusing thing is that the falls can be accessed from the interconnected system of trails, and so you may be at another waterfall and see a sign saying Wahkeena Falls is some distance away by trail. Unless you really like hiking, just look for the major parking area.

The falls are extremely beautiful and rather complex. At the parking area, you can see the falls in its 240′ entirety, which involves the main drops and a multitude of cascades below the main drops. In order to access the main drops, you have to hike on the clearly marked, short, but moderately steep paved trail. I believe that trail continues onto Multnomah Falls. After hiking up the trail, you will see the second drop very clearly, as it will be feet away from you. The first drop becomes more difficult to see at that angle. There is a lot of spray from the falls, so be sure to cover your camera lens.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  2. Look for the Wahkeena Falls parking lot as you’re driving along the highway. It will be to the west of the Multnomah Falls parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (roadside view), 8/10 (trail to the falls)
Height: 240′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Wahkeena Falls?