Multnomah Falls to Larch Mountain and back

August 31, 2012

On Thursday, I hiked as fast as I could up to the top of Larch Mountain from the base of Multomah Falls, then ran back down.


The highways at the base of the falls (it’s accessible from both I-84 and the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway) are at an elevation right around 50 feet. Sherrard Point, the top of Larch Mountain, is at 4056 feet. So that’s a 4000 foot elevation gain over seven miles. It’s a relatively consistent climb.


The first mile is on paved switchbacks, getting up to the top of Multnomah Falls. The first quarter mile of that is wall-to-wall tourists, getting up to the bridge over the creek between the upper and lower falls. The rest of the paved way to the top is only a little less crowded. If you’re a runner doing this, don’t plan on running this part.

Up at the top, you can follow a dead-end trail branch to go over to the overlook at the top of the falls, or follow the main trail upstream along Multomah Creek. This is “Larch Mountain Trail 441” and you follow it all the way up. The next few miles along the creek are scenic and offer varied terrain, including some difficult-to-run rocky bits.


Eventually you leave the creek and head off into a section with someĀ serious rocky bits. This was entirely unrunnable on the way back down.


There’s only a quarter-mile or so of this kind of exposed carved-through-the-rockfall trail, but long sections of the forested paths around there are also dangerously rocky to run through.

After slogging uphill forever, you get past all the rocks and reach the last stretches, angling up the side of the shield volcano that is Larch Mountain. The trails here are fairly evenly graded and runnable, though if you still have the energy left to run it on the way up, you’re a stronger man than I.

I took two hours and one minutes up and an hour six down, stopping for lunch at Sherrard Point in between.