ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY - Admiring the magnificent Multnomah Falls, I was taking photos from different angles when a young lady approached and told me I should see the awe-inspiring cascade in autumn.
“When the leaves have changed colors, you would not believe how beautiful it is,” said Heather Williamson from nearby Portland.
She and her friends like to take the short 30-minute drive east from Portland to the falls for hikes and have seen the 611-foot-tall roaring waterfall in all seasons.
“You can hike to the top of the falls,” she said. “It’s about one and a half miles or you can take the six-mile Wahkeena Loop Trail.”
Hiking is not on my itinerary today, I told her. Multnomah Falls is part of today’s shore excursion from the S.S. Legacy cruise. And I can see that my group is heading to our comfy tour bus for our next stop so I have to start the short walk back.
I can imagine how beautiful the falls must be in the different seasons and I hope to someday return. My “hike” was only a five-minute walk from the parking lot off I-84. Oregon’s highest waterfall is only one of 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.
Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, the flow of Multnomah varies with the highest during the winter and spring. But it does not dry up in the late summer as do many of the West’s famous falls. As you can tell from my photos, the water was flowing pretty strong on my visit.
Multnomah Falls also has some interesting history. The first whites to witness the falls were said to be the Lewis & Clark expedition as they floated down the Columbia River. No one knows exactly who named the falls but it has been called Multnomah since at least 1860.
According to Native American legend, the falls were created to win the heart and hand of a young princess who needed a secret place to bathe. That princess might be surprised today to see all the folks who come to enjoy her “secret” waterfall.