If you’re looking for a hike close to Portland with all the glory a Columbia River Gorge waterfall can offer, try the Wahclella Falls Loop. The area (named after a close-by Native American village) is only about 40 minutes from Portland.
This trail is fairly well-maintained and starts at Wahclella Falls Trailhead. From here it leads across Munra Falls and up the east side of a canyon. It’s not too rugged a climb, with only about 300 feet in elevation gain, but the drop is steep, so step with caution. From here, the path forks.
The lower path drops down the mountain along switchbacks and offers the best view. Follow this path to a visually stunning natural amphitheater that houses the thunderous base of Wahclella Falls. Pause here to enjoy the view, the cooling mist, or have a snack – the view is worth a little down time.
Past Wahclella Falls, the trail gains a bit of elevation (since you took the easy ways down) and loops back toward the trailhead.
It’s a simple hike, only 1.8 miles in total, and has restrooms at the trailhead.
To get there from Portland, go east on I-84 east, and then take Exit 40 toward the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Turn right at the first stop sign. About 100 feet down is the trailhead parking lot.
There’s a $5 recreation fee, waived if you have a forest pass.