15+ Must-See Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls

The Columbia River Gorge is home to a myriad of breathtaking waterfalls plunging from vertical basalt cliffs which rise high above the roadtrip-worthy Columbia River Highway.

Living in Oregon for the last two decades I’ve traversed the mist-laden coastal roadways, backpacked along the volcanic Cascade Range, and explored the expansive, rolling desert lands in the eastern part of the state. Each part holds its own mystery and magic, but all of that natural wonder seems to jell together in the iconic Columbia River Gorge.

Few places scream “Pacific Northwest!” as proudly as the Columbia River Gorge. A sunkissed spotlight shines upon Multnomah Falls, the tallest and most famous of Oregon’s waterfalls, though dozens of other magnificent, attention-deserving waterfalls and hikes also grace the Gorge in both Oregon and Washington. Altogether, this spectacular area showcases some of the best scenery the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

We’ve compiled a list that covers many of the best waterfalls within the Columbia River Gorge. Plenty of these waterfalls can be seen right from the highway, but they’re all best-experienced up close where their power splendor can be fully appreciated.

This list includes falls which can be enjoyed from day use areas right off the Columbia River Highway, and we’ve also added in a number of hidden falls which require a bit of hiking to see firsthand. It’s nearly impossible to experience every waterfall on a single trip through the Gorge, so enjoy the journey and visit again when you can.

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the Columbia River Gorge trails map from REI to help you navigate when exploring the Gorge!

Bridal Veil Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Eric Kilby

The trailhead from the Columbia River Highway splits into a mile-long out-and-back that leads hikers down a series of steep switchbacks to the base of these majestic falls. The Bridal Veil Falls are as ceremoniously pretty as their namesake suggests.

Once but a forgotten wonder, Bridal Veil Falls had been erased from existence by a functioning lumber mill upstream that diverted the creek’s water. Now that the lumber mill itself is but a memory, the dual Bridal Veil Falls have returned to dazzle people once again.

Take in their glory for as long as you wish from the lower viewing platform. Alternatively, a second universal access loop trail provides a wheelchair accessible trip along an interpretive path that skirts along the basalt rim of the Bridal Veil Bluff, offering views of the falls, the Columbia River, and the distant palisades of Cape Horn.

Height: 100 and 160 feet
Explore more: Bridal Veil Falls

Dog Creek Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Daniel Anderson

Often overlooked by highway drivers and hikers tackling the adjacent Dog Mountain Trail, Dog Creek Falls is a fantastic spot to pull over for a creekside picnic. The cooling mists of the waterfall are a welcome respite from the summer heat, and adventurous folk can climb past the falls for a romp into the canyon it helped to carve.

All in all, this is a modest yet wonderful spot to take a roadside break. It’s a peaceful location with the occasional passing train where children can swim and hikers can recuperate from their arduous journey up Dog Mountain or Dog Creek Canyon.

Height: 30 feet
Explore more: Dog Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Bonnie Moreland

The incredibly popular trail leading up to Dry Creek Falls was closed for a long time following the aftermath of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, but it’s now open once again. Along the hike you’ll see scorch marks on the lower portions of the trees, but the canopy remains intact and the underbrush has regrown.

Near the top of the 4.5-mile out-and-back trail, a decommissioned dam still remains which once supplied the nearby town of Cascade Locks with water. From here the fire damage is more obvious and substantial, though the beauty of this place remains remarkably serene.

Dry Creek Falls is a horsetail waterfall that drops from a thin canyon over a wall of moss-covered columnar basalt. Above there are more tiers to this impressive waterfall, but no easy trails to these upper portions exist, leaving their beauty to be beheld by technical climbers and brave bushwacking explorers.

Height: 75 feet
Explore More: Dry Creek Falls hike

Eagle Creek

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Luke Detwiler

Home to a wealth of mindblowing waterfalls, Eagle Creek is one of the most visited recreational areas in the gorge, though its steep and treacherous trail is not for the faint of heart.

Eagle Creek Trail climbs uphill, becoming more steep the further you travel, ultimately leading to the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the route are numerous waterfalls, deep canyons, and steep cliffs where thick cables bolted to the rockface assist hikers in skirting around the dangerous drops.

Adventurous hikers will encounter many awesome waterfalls including the plunging Metlako Falls (named after a Native American Goddess of Salmon), the tumbling Loowit Falls, the photogenic Punchbowl Falls, and, my personal favorite, Tunnel Falls. You can actually walk behind Tunnel Falls through a rock tunnel that was blasted into the cliffside.

Though this trail is currently closed due to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, it is a massively popular hike with some of the most astounding scenery in the gorge and should be on your hiking to-do list.

Height: 15 to 130
Explore more: Eagle Creek Trail; Eagle Creek Waterfalls

Elowah Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Ian Sane

One of the towering behemoths on this list, Elowah Falls drops nearly two dozen stories before crashing into an amphitheater formed by clashing lava flows. The short 1.4-mile round trip hike along McCord creek will be easy for most people.

This trail is currently closed because of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, but it will open again. We just had to put Elowah Falls on this list because it is one of the most magical falls you will find in the Columbia River Gorge, rivaling even the famous Multnomah Falls.

Add Elowah Falls to your list and go visit when you can. Keep up to date on current Columbia River Gorge closures to know which trails and waterfalls are open to public access.

Height: 220 feet
Explore more: Elowah Falls

Fairy Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: US Forest Service / Donald Graham

What the miniscule Fairy Falls lacks in immensity, they more than make up for in intimacy. Starkly contrasting the mega falls on our list, Fairy Falls is a delicate veil-type waterfall adorned with vibrant mosses and ferns.

During the summer months there is a particular time of day where the sun hits these whispering falls at just the right angle and brightness to make them glow. This place was once called Ghost Falls, but has since been renamed to better reflect its more Fern Gully-esque magical presence.

Height: 20 feet
Explore more: Fairy Falls

Hole in the Wall Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Bonnie Moreland

Hole in the Wall Falls is a manmade waterfall created by maintenance crews who sought to resolve a flooding problem along the Columbia River Highway. Their creative solution was to blast a hole through a cliff and divert the creek so that it dropped into an unproblematic abyss.

As a result, Hole in the Wall Falls has the odd title of “Newest Waterfall” in the Columbia River Gorge. A paved universal access trail meanders through a conifer forest past Hole in the Wall Falls as well as Starvation Creek Falls, Cabin Creek Falls, and Lancaster Falls. This spectacular jaunt through the woods is a quick way to fill your waterfall-yearning soul.

Read more  How to Prepare for a Hike up Mount Fitz Roy, Patagonia

Height: 96 feet
Explore more: Hole in the Wall Falls; Falls Loop Hike

Horsetail Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Wilson Bilkovich

Named for its characteristic shape, Horsetail Falls is a scenic and popular roadside destination right next to the Columbia River Highway. The waterfall is so close to the highway that passing cars are often sprayed by its mist and the road itself can become icy during winter months.

From the picnic and parking area there is a 2.6-mile loop hike which circles behind Horsetail Falls to the small, cutely named Ponytail Falls. From Ponytail Falls the trail continues into a cavernous, lava-filled land with stunning views of Oneonta Gorge and passes by one last waterfall, the modest Middle Oneonta Falls.

Height: 176 feet
Explore more: Horsetail and Ponytail Falls Loop Hike

Latourell Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Sheila Sund

Latourell Falls is the second tallest waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, the closest major waterfall to the Portland metro area, and is exquisitely photogenic. All of these factors combine to make Latourell Falls one of the most visited waterfalls in the state of Oregon, if not the entire Pacific Northwest.

It’s a short walk to the popular viewpoint, but a longer loop hike will take you toward Upper Latourell Falls and beyond. We highlighted this hike in our feature on Portland area trails and believe it to be one the the best hikes around the Rose City.

Beyond it’s given beauty, Latourell Falls has a history that gives depth to the experience. The falls were named after Joseph Latourell, a prominent Columbia River Gorge settler who became postmaster of a nearby post office. His family cabin still stands near the park’s picnic area.

Height: 249
Explore more: Latourell Falls Loop

Mosier Creek Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Brianna Becerril

A charming two-tier waterfall set against a backdrop of green hillsides and a rainbow of springtime wildflowers, Mosier Creek Falls is as scenic as they come. These falls plunge into a rocky canyon, forming a deep pool which serves as a popular summertime swimming hole.

At the top of a green hill adjacent to the falls lies the historic Mosier Pioneer Cemetery. A pioneer by the name of Josiah Mosier settled in the area with friends and family, using the waterfall to power his sawmill.

Those looking for a hike can opt to traverse the 3.5-mile there-and-back Mosier Plateau Hike which passes by the falls and continues through grassy slopes rich with mountain views and more wildflowers than you could count in a lifetime.

Height: 80 feet
Explore more: Mosier Creek Falls and Plateau

Multnomah Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: AirHaake

The tallest, most well-known, and most breathtaking waterfall in all of Oregon is Multnomah Falls. Ice cold waters plummet 620 feet over two tiers, falling from their source high on Larch Mountain in what may be the most magical scenery in all of the Pacific Northwest.

The falls are easily seen by every passerby on Interstate 84, but it is well worth the 5 minute walk along the gentle paved path from the parking lot to see the falls from the viewpoint at their base. The sheer power of Multnomah Falls overwhelms you with its natural force as its cool mists wash over your body, soaking you to the bone if you dare stand too close for too long.

A short uphill walk takes visitor up above the bottom tier of the falls over a bridge with an astoundingly close vantage point of the massive 540 foot main drop and the moss-lined pool it creates.

Hikers can continue up a set of switchbacks to the top of the falls and continue on a longer loop which we detailed in our article on our favorite Portland area hikes.

Height: 620 feet
Explore more: Multnomah Falls

Rodney Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Stephanie Joice

Rodney Falls is a two-tiered waterfall that is often only seen from a bridge that crosses over the creek, giving a view of the pretty lower tier of the falls. This lower tier is where the waters of Hardy Creek cascade beautifully over 45 feet of cliff face, creating a photogenic backdrop.

The real treasure of these falls lies up a short hike to the upper tier, which showers down in a rainbow-inducing spray that falls into the mystifying Pool of the Winds.

The Pool of the Winds is a dark whirlpool inside a cave-like enclosure which drains through a fissure into the lower tier of Rodney Falls. From the pool’s cave rushes a cool wind that can be a nice respite from the hot summer weather.

Height: 80 feet
Explore more: Beacon Rock State Park

Starvation Creek Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: Bonnie Moreland

No Columbia River Gorge trip is complete without a visit to Starvation Creek Falls. This massive waterfall pours through a narrow channel at the top of a basalt cliff where it drops into a self-created bowl, cascading down a series of rocks past the parking lot and picnic area.

There’s a hike that heads closer to the falls, though the view from the picnic area is equal in grandeur to any viewpoint on the trail.

The history of this area is interesting. The falls were named after an 1884 railroad incident where a passenger train found itself stuck in a large snowbank for several weeks. Though no one died, the train passengers were kept alive by Columbia River Gorge residents who skied in supplies to the trapped travelers.

Height: 225 feet
Explore more: Starvation Creek Falls

Wahclella Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: US Forest Service

A short, though fairly tough, 2-mile round trip hike to Wahclella Falls is well worth the adventure. This waterfall is an oddity in that it rises to different heights depending on the time of year.

The lower drop can be seen year round. This is a beautiful and powerful horsetail style waterfall that splashes into an amazing wading pool. Above this lower waterfall, a hidden upper tier deep within a canyon of its own making can be seen from near the end of the trail loop.

During the wet season of the winter months, there is a third seasonal waterfall which falls into the creek that is much taller than either of the other tiers.

Height: 120 feet or 250 feet
Explore more: Wahclella Falls Hike

Wahkeena Falls

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Photo: John Fowler

Wahkeena Falls is a magnificent waterfall that can be enjoyed completely from the day use area at its base. Translated from the local Yakama language, “Wahkeena” is interpreted as “most beautiful”.

These tumbling falls drop and cascade at different lengths over various rocky formations. Multiple loop trails leave from the day use area, where you’ll find restrooms, a large picnic shelter with a stone fireplace, and barbecue grills. This is a wonderful spot to relax with a scenic waterfall as your backdrop.

Height: 242 feet
Explore more: Wahkeena Falls

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— Update: 01-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 7 Easy Waterfall Hikes For Kids in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon from the website bring-the-kids.com for the keyword columbia gorge waterfall hikes.

The Columbia River Gorge is famous for its massive waterfalls and lush scenery.  The best part about that is there are lots of short waterfall hikes that are easy for you to enjoy.  Whether you’re enjoying a day trip from Portland or staying in Columbia River Gorge, there are more hikes than you can imagine in this beautiful area.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Is Columbia River Gorge Good For Hiking With Kids

Absolutely, YES!  We brought our family with us on our most recent visit to the Gorge and they all loved hiking here.  Our youngest is 4 years old and he can do all of these hikes on his own, though there are a few of them with more exposure where we made sure to hold his hand for safety.  All of these short hikes in Columbia River Gorge are great for kids because even though some of them are steep, they don’t cover long distances, so they’re easier for hiking with kids.  

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

How Busy Does Columbia River Gorge Get?

It can get super busy here since the Gorge is really close to Portland and it’s an easy day trip from the city.  During July and August, plan on getting out early (before 8 to the most popular trails), and plan to spend a long day exploring Columbia River Gorge as a family.  The 84 back to Portland can get pretty crazy on weekends between 3:30-6pm, so skip the traffic and enjoy the longer days by staying in the Gorge later.  As an advantage, most trailheads start to clear out between 6-7pm so that can be a great time to go on more popular waterfall hikes.

Read more  Five Table Mountain hikes to try

When Is The Best Time To Hike To Waterfalls in Columbia River Gorge?

For the best waterfalls, plan on hiking in May.  The weather can still be pretty wet then, so go prepared with rain gear and waterproof shoes for hiking.  If you want the nicest weather, plan on hiking in July, August and September.  The crowds will be the smallest in September, especially if you can go midweek.  The weekends are the most busy time to hike to waterfalls in Columbia Gorge.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

What Should I wear to hike to waterfalls in Columbia River Gorge?

The most important thing to wear while hiking in Columbia River Gorge is good footwear.  The trails are often steep, and with all the rain the area gets, they can easily be muddy as well.  Check out our recommendations for the best hiking shoes, as well as the best outdoor sandals for hiking.  

When you hike to a waterfall in Portland and this Gorge area, also make sure that you always have a rain jacket available since it does rain so much here.  We like these packable rain jackets (kids version, adult version), since they’re easy to throw in a backpack so we can always be prepared for hiking in the rain in Oregon. We also recommend taking hydration backpacks or water bottles to make sure that everyone stays hydrated!

How Can I Avoid Crowds at Multnomah Falls?

Multnomah Falls is the most popular and most crowded waterfall in Oregon.  It’s absolutely stunning so there’s good reason that it’s so popular (in addition to the dining and other tourist options there).  When it’s very crowded, the freeway exit will be closed and there are signs showing its closure from highway 84. The best time to go to Multnomah Falls is early in the morning or in the evening after 6pm.  We went on a Sunday evening at 6:30 and had no problems finding a parking spot.  If you arrive and can’t find any parking options, you can always park down the road at Wahkeena Falls and follow the 0.5 mile trail east to Multnomah.  Note: HIking along the roadside is prohibited so make sure to use the actual trail.

Short and Easy Waterfall Hikes in Columbia River Gorge

Wahkeena Falls

Distance: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Wahkenna Falls parking lot

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

The hike at Wahkeena Falls is short and sweet.  This short hike will take you to the bridge at the base of the waterfall and is really quick, but offers amazing views.  Most of the trail up to the bridge is paved, though it’s pretty steep, and has one small rocky section, so wheelchairs or strollers are not advised.  

From this spot, you can turn around, or continue hiking up to Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls

Distance: 2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Wahkenna Falls parking lot

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

The hike to Fairy Falls is absolutely STUNNING.  Seriously, it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in the Columbia River Gorge.  The trail starts right at the base of Wahkenna Falls and follows that trail until the bridge crossing at the bottom of the falls.  At that bridge, continue hiking east on the trail and up a series of switchbacks.  Most of the trail up the switchbacks is paved, so although the switchbacks are moderately steep, the smooth trail makes the hike easier.  Once you get to the top of the switchbacks, head right for a spectacular view of the Columbia River at Lemmons Viewpoint.  After the viewpoint, backtrack and keep heading south on the trail.  Here the trail follows alongside a creek as it goes farther up the canyon.  You’ll have a couple of bridges to cross and the trail is stunningly beautiful.  There are lots of ferns and cascades which make the trail so pretty, and the second half of the trail is much less steep than the switchbacks at the beginning.  Fairy Falls isn’t a massive waterfall, but it is really pretty and the base of it is a great place to take your shoes off and cool your feet down in the water.

Multnomah Falls Hiking Trail

Distance: 2.2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Dropping over 600 feet, Multnomah Falls is absolutely stunning.  You can view it from highway 84 and it’s seriously amazing.  This is also probably the most crowded hike in all of Oregon.  With limited parking, crowded trails, and a more touristy feel, this waterfall is nice to look at, but may not be everyone’s favorite, but it’s still worth a stop.  The hike to the top of the falls is 2.2 miles round trip.  Truthfully, I think that the views from the bridge or in front of the falls were better, so unless you’re really determined to hike this trail, you may want to hike a less crowded waterfall in Columbia River Gorge.  

Wahclella Falls

Distance: 2 Miles Round Trip
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

This is our family favorite for an easy Columbia River Gorge hike with kids.  It has much less elevation gain and is an easier hike for kids to do.  The trail for this Oregon waterfall hike with kids starts out as an old road for about the first ¼ and then starts a few climbs as it follows the river up the canyon.  There are a few sections in this hike that are pretty exposed with steep drop offs, so talk to your kids about safety before you leave.  While the trail was plenty wide for safety on this easy waterfall hike, younger kids should probably hold hands with an adult on the exposed sections as there is no railing. 

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

There is one fork in the trail where the left side keeps climbing up, and the right side goes down to cross a bridge, and you’ll want to take the right trail.  Overall, the hike is fairly easy, but we rated this as moderate because of the exposed sections.  This is the best Columbia River Gorge Hike for kids.  

Note: there is very limited parking at the trailhead for this easy Oregon waterfall hike.  Plan on getting there early or coming in the evening.

Latourell Falls

Distance:  2 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

This is the first significant waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge.  Latourell Falls is a great hike with kids and is often much less crowded than the other waterfalls nearby.  You can check out the falls easily from the base of the waterfall, or you can do a quick 2 mile loop up to the top of the falls and back down.  This is one of the best Columbia River Gorge hikes for kids. If you’re looking for an easy hike near Portland, this is a great option.

Bridal Veil Falls Hike

Distance: 0.3 miles to the falls, 1.2 mile overlook loop
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

If you’re looking for a short and easy Columbia River Gorge hike with kids, make sure to check out Bridal Veil Falls.  This waterfall is absolutely spectacular and it’s a great waterfall hike for families.  To get to the waterfall, there is a short (though somewhat steep) trail that’s just 0.3 miles total from the parking lot.  If you want a really quick waterfall hike, this is a great option.  If you’re willing to hike a little bit farther, there is a loop that overlooks the falls that you can hike to with kids, and is just over a mile total.  This kid friendly Oregon waterfall hike is usually crowded on weekends, but during the week, it’s much more empty.  

Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls

Distance: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Horsetail Falls is the least crowded waterfall in Columbia River Gorge and has quick and easy parking accessible.  The waterfall is right next to the road, so you can easily view it without hiking, but for the best views, you’ll want to hike up the trail to the top of the waterfall.  There is a short and steep hike that will take you up to the top of the waterfall and to Ponytail Falls, in just 0.4 miles.  This is a really good short waterfall hike with kids, but just keep your pace slow as the trail is steep and has a bit of exposure in places.   

Read more  St. Mark’s Summit Hike in West Vancouver

If you’re looking for short waterfall hikes with kids in Columbia River Gorge, these are all fantastic trails.  Kids will love these short Oregon waterfall hikes, and they’re all great for kids since they’re all short.  Even though some of these family friendly Oregon hikes are steeper, they’re great for kids because they’re shorter.

What else to do in Columbia River Gorge?

If you’re looking for more fun things to do in the area, check out these other articles we’ve written:

Best Things To Do With Kids in Portland
Hood River Oregon Fruit Loop with KidsBest Activities in Columbia River Gorge

— Update: 02-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 7 amazing Washington state waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge from the website thegorgeguide.com for the keyword columbia gorge waterfall hikes.

The Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington is known as the gateway to outdoor adventures, and one of the area’s best features is its high concentration of waterfalls.

While most are on the south side of the river, the Washington state waterfalls are just as impressive, with some plummeting through thick forests and over basalt cliffs more than 100 feet tall.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Lower Lewis River Falls

Easily accessible and incredibly gorgeous, visiting these remarkable falls is one of the best things to do in the Gorge. Here are seven of the best waterfalls in Washington that are well worth the trip.

Lower Lewis River Falls

When it comes to Washington falls, Lower Lewis River Falls sets the bar in a big way; in fact, this special spot ranks as one of the top attractions in the entire Columbia Gorge.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Lower Lewis River Falls

Found deep in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest northwest of Trout Lake, this part of the Lewis River features a magnificent 200-foot wide set of falls that are 43 feet high, and pool into glistening natural swimming holes.

Beat the heat by going for a dip, or enjoy the spectacular views from one of the many lookout points including a few near the parking lot which look down at the cascade. As the shoreline around it is rocky, it’s a good idea to bring beach chairs if you plan on spending the afternoon here.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Columbia gorge waterfall hikesIt’s important to note that permits are required during the busy summer season between June and September, otherwise you’ll likely be turned around at the entrance. Click here for more information and requirements.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Lower Lewis River Falls

Spirit Falls WA

Heart-pumping rock scrambles, a thundering waterfall and brilliant turquoise water are among the highlights of hiking to Spirit Falls.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Spirit Falls

Found near Underwood and Cook, this is one of the prettiest Columbia Gorge waterfalls thanks to the power of the water that cascades off the cliffside, then flows down into the Little White Salmon River.

The trail is a short out-and-back that only takes 15-20 minutes each way, but prepare for a grind since the mile-long trail is rated as challenging due to steep terrain and the rocky, uneven pathway. Once you make it, enjoy the views of the thundering falls, roaring water, and keep an eye out for kayakers playing below.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Husum Falls

There are two ways to see Husum Falls near BZ Corner: peer out at it from the nearby bridge, or go whitewater rafting right over it!

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
The White Salmon River

The falls are in the White Salmon River, which is framed by soaring cliffs and gem-toned glacial water that flows down from Mt. Adams. The stunning scenery and Class III-IV rapids make this one of the best things to do in White Salmon, and Husum Falls just so happens to be the tallest commercially rafted waterfall route in the country.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Rafting trips can be booked through local outfitters including Zoller’s, River Drifters or Wet Planet, and trips typically include a few hours of tackling Class III-IV rapids rapids and cliff-jumping before reaching the falls.

While navigating the 12-foot drop that ends up in a boulder garden and is guaranteed to submerge you is completely optional, it’s likely to be the highlight of your trip.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Hardy Falls on Hamilton Mountain

For a one-stop shop of the best features of the Columbia River Gorge, head to Hardy Falls in Beacon Rock State Park.

The spectacular Hamilton Mountain hike has cascading waterfalls, shaded old growth forests, wildflowers and spectacular panoramic views over the Columbia River. While it’s 3.2 miles up to the summit, there are plenty of natural attractions and lookout points along the way to break up the walk including Hardy Falls.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Hardy Falls

You’ll hear this waterfall before you see it, and discover water pooling over jagged rocks framed by lush moss and ferns. Steps veering off the pathway lead to a great lookout point.

The next set of falls is even more dramatic, and wooden bridges lead to Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds. Scamper up to the left and take the steps to the upper falls, or stick to the main trail for gorgeous photo-ops.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds
Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds

Hikers interested in continuing up to the top of the Hamilton Mountain trailhead will continue up a series of steep switchbacks with peek-a-boo views of the Columbia River Gorge, before arriving at an exposed cliff area with a dramatic crevasse overlooking the Cascade peaks. From there, it’s a short walk to a vantage point with panoramic views of the river, Bonneville Dam, Table Mountain and Beacon Rock.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
The summit of Hamilton Mountain

Panther Creek Falls

An awe-inspiring, 130-foot tall waterfall rewards visitors who make the short journey down to Panther Creek Falls in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, making it one of the most impressive Washington waterfalls.

With a large observation deck and mile-long, forested pathway leading straight to the base, it’s easily accessible which makes this a fun option for families and can be combined with a visit to nearby Lower Lewis River Falls.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Panther Creek Falls

To see the falls, start at the viewpoint near the top which has views of the spot where Panther Creek plunges 100 feet over a rocky cliffside and tranquil pools with fallen logs and mossy rocks. Then, head about 10 minutes down the trail to the bottom of the falls to see the entire waterfall cascading down before dropping another 30 feet as it continues down the forest.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
The view of Panther Creek Falls from the viewing deck

Falls Creek Falls

Falls Creek Falls is one of the highest southern Washington State waterfalls, at a soaring 335-feet. In fact, it’s so tall it’s impossible to see all of the triple-tiered falls from below.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

The Falls Creek Falls trail is about a one hour drive northwest of White Salmon, and accessed by an easy 3.4 mile out-and-back trail which is one of the best family-friendly Gorge hikes at only 750 feet in elevation. The hike through a tranquil forest includes crossing a cable suspension bridge that has great views of the rocky gorge below, before arriving at the waterfall.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes

Langfield Falls

The short Langfield Falls hike delivers some big views, making this another family-friendly way to explore Columbia Gorge waterfalls.

It only takes a few minutes of walking down a well-marked pathway to get to this towering waterfall, which has a swimming area and fantastic lookout points. Langfield Falls is quite impressive, towering nearly 60 feet high and about 75 wide before pooling into the craggy rocks below.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes
Langfield Falls

The trailhead is located about a 25 minute drive northwest of Trout Lake, and nearby attractions include Lower Lewis River Falls, the Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument and Mt Adams.

Columbia gorge waterfall hikes



  • A complete travel guide to the city of White Salmon, Washington
  • Fun things to do in Trout Lake WA
  • The Wind Mountain hike in southern Washington
  • Touring the Bonneville Dam visitor center


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About the Author: Tung Chi