Outdoors Portland Travel

Wahclella Falls Hike – An Easy & Stunning Columbia River Gorge Waterfall

August 27, 2021

Last Updated:

Wahclella Falls Trail is a short 2 mile out and back hike in the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Oregon. Technically 1.9 miles (with a lollipop loop at the end) the Wahclella Falls hike is a quick and easy waterfall hike, and makes a nice day trip from Portland. The trailhead is only a 40 minute drive from Portland. I consider this waterfall hike to be a pretty stunning payoff for such a short hike. Plus, in summer, there are also a few places to wade and swim along the route along Tanner Creek. Which is especially refreshing in the heat. But this waterfall is also a great fall hike. And it makes a beautiful rainy route and majestic waterfall in winter and spring too.

Wahclella Falls Trailhead

  • Trailhead/Parking: Wahclella Falls Trail
  • Driving From Portland: 40 minutes, 38 miles
  • Trail Length: 1.9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 288 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
Wahclella Falls trail Waterfall hike

Wahclella Falls Hike

With less than 300′ total elevation gain, this hike is doable for more casual hikers. But you’ll still need to watch your kids and dogs as there are some spots with steep cliffs and some slide areas. While Latourell Falls is a Portland favorite for being the closest falls to Portland, Wahclella falls is only 15 miles further than Latourell, and 9 miles past Multnomah Falls.

Wahclella Falls is made up of two falls and stands at 350 feet. According to the USFS, the two-tier plunge falls have an upper falls of about 20 feet and the lower falls are 60 feet.

You technically pass two waterfalls on this hike. At about 1/3 mile in you will pass Munra Falls – a small fairy falls that cascades mist close to the trail and bridge. When you reach the split in the trail, take the right fork to approach the falls from a lower angle and great views. As you get closer to the falls you can loop back on the upper trail.

Tanner Creek bridge on Wahclella Falls trail
wahclella falls log jam

More Info

Kids: The first .3 of this hike is on a closed-access flat road for the small dam and fish ladder of the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. This is a great intro hike spot for toddlers and young kids. Once you pass Munra Falls though, you’ll need to be careful with kiddos on the switchbacks and sheer drop offs.

Busy: As with most waterfall hikes in the Gorge, if it’s the weekend on a nice day, you’re going to find crowds. Go mid-week and you’ll see only a few people.

Getting There: From Portland, go east on 84. Take Exit 40 for Yeon State Park. There are some parking spots at the trailhead. Overflow parking is at the Tooth Rock Trailhead about .4 miles away, which will add about 1 mile to your hike.

Parking: $5 day use or Free with an annual NW Forest Pass.

Safety, Weather, and Fire Info: This trail was heavily damaged in the Eagle Creek fire in 2017. According to the USFS, the watershed of Tanner Creek – which feeds into Wahclella Falls – was part of the burn too, so if don’t hike in this area within 48 hours of heavy rain or snow. Which can trigger flash floods, trees falling, landslides etc. And the risk of this remains for 10 years, so through 2027.

Nearby: Other nice hikes nearby Wahclella Falls are: Latourell Falls, Eagle Creek Trail and Punchbowl Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Multnomah Falls.

Post-Hike: Wahclella Falls is only 4 miles away from Cascade Locks. So Thunder Island Brewing and the new Gorges Brewing make a great post-hike stop. Or ice cream from Eastwind Drive-In.

Wahclella Falls plunge waterfall

Last Hiked: July 2021 – 45 minutes hiking time

Google Maps // AllTrails Map // Oregon Hikers