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One day through the Columbia River Gorge

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
  • Beacon Rock Boat Launch
  • Beacon Rock State Park
  • Double Mountain Brewery
  • Starvation Creek Falls
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Portland Women’s Forum | State Scenic Viewpoint

Arrived in Portland around 10:15 AM, got rental car and drove down the Washington side of the gorge first. It took about 45 minutes to get to our first stop, Beacon Rock State Park. We went to the boat launch first, which I highly recommend for a great view of the rock reflected in the water. Then drove to the trailhead and hiked the short, switch-back heavy path to the top. It’s paved and easy, under 2 miles RT and about 800 feet of elevation gain. Neat trail with great views.

Our next stop was Spirit Falls, which isn’t on Google Maps. Take a left on Cook-Underwood Road and at just under 2 miles there is an unmarked pull-off on the right just as the road curves back towards the left. You can see the mile marker from where you park, so you could just go to the “2,” turn around, and drive about 20 yards back downhill and pull off. There is an unmarked, but clear, trail that goes downhill. The first part is small rocks and then it breaks to the left through the trees and gets pretty steep downhill. You’ll be at the waterfall in about 15 minutes – not a long hike. Stunning place, truly a hidden gem.

Spirit Falls

Drove back down to Route 14 and continued east. Great views of Mount Hood across the river. Took the Hood River bridge ($2) over the river to Oregon and stopped at Double Mountain Brewery for a quick bite to eat. Nice place, good pizza.

Next was Starvation Creek State Park to see Starvation Creek Falls. It’s nice, but not a must-see. Don’t need more than 5-15 minutes, depending on how close to the falls you want to go. You can get right up to the base. There are lots of “better” waterfalls in the area, but many of them were still closed due to the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. It’s a good stop while there’s still so much off limits.

Continued back towards Portland and stopped at Multnomah Falls, the most famous and tallest waterfall in the gorge. Didn’t have the time to go up to the bridge or top, just admired from below. You can see the best view in about 10 minutes total after parking.

Last stop was the Portland Women’s Forum, which is an odd name but the best view looking down the gorge. You get Vista House in the frame, which sticks out on a cliff and looks awesome.

View down the Columbia River Gorge from the Women’s Forum

There are so many stops in this area that you could spend several days and not see it all. There were lots of hikes and waterfalls that had to wait while the landscape recovers (Oneonta Gorge, Elowah Falls, Eagle Creek Trail, etc.).

Traveled in October 2019

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