The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River. Up to 4,000 feet deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. Extending roughly from the confluence of the Columbia with the Deschutes River down to eastern reaches of the Portland metropolitan area, the gorge furnishes the only navigable route through the Cascades and the only water connection between the Columbia River Plateau and the Pacific Ocean.
The gorge holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area called the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and is managed by the United States Forest Service.
The 178 foot high, 15 foot wide Horsetail Falls plunges down a cliff on the northwest side of Larch Mountain in the shape of a giant, white horsetail. Water flows over the falls throughout the entire year.
Visited by over two million people a year, Multnomah Falls is the second highest year-round waterfall in the USA. Multnomah Creek, created by underground springs from Larch Mountain, feeds the falls as it plunges off steep basalt cliffs. The falls plummet 543 feet to the upper plunge pool, descend another 69 feet, plus an additional 8 feet between to total a 620 foot fall! The concrete bridge spans above the space between the upper and lower falls and was built by a little old Italian mason in 1914.
The major waterfall of Wahkeena Creek may just be the most scenic waterfall along the historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. Wahkeena Creek crashes from step to step down a narrow crack between basalt outcroppings in a final furious plunge before joining the Columbia River downstream. Wahkeena Falls is unique among the major waterfalls in this section of the Gorge in that it possesses a significant alluvial fan in both size and elevation. The base of the falls lies a good 100 vertical feet above the road, which both helps aggrandize the falls and creates an unfortunate level of foreshortening. Lofty maple trees line the cascading creek below the falls.
The trail at Bridal Veil takes us steeply downhill to the base of Bridal Veil Falls and is about a mile round trip to the falls and back. Although short, this is a steep little trail full of switchbacks. Unfortunatly, JoEllen was having trouble hiking the trail steps and did not make it to the falls. This waterfall consists of two cascades in quick succession along angling rockfaces and is 120 feet tall. A lumber mill was previously located between the cascades, remnants can still be seen.
Latourell Falls is an exciting waterfall to see, as Latourell Creek plunges 249 ft. over a rocky cliff. The wind blows the spray back and forth creating an amazing view with the eroding volcanic basalt formations as background.
A delightful time was had here in a very beautiful part of our great country. We will return to this area again to explore more fully. Waterfalls are such a thought provoking area to spend some time reflecting life. We sadly move on, stopping at a fruit farm under the shadow of Mount Hood, purchasing delicious fruit. David made a home made apple pie with some of the wonderful apples.