The famous Columbia river of Oregon has carved through the mountains and created the gorge and the scenic highway, which was our destination on day 2 of our Portland trip. We started off a bit earlier than previous day and started our drive to the gorge, idea was to drive through the highway and end up at Mt. St Hood by dusk and drive back.
Columbia river gorge scenic highway is a narrow and windy road that runs parallel to a highway. True to its name, it is scenic, on the way before entering the gorge itself we witnessed some beautiful farms and view points. Since it was a bit early in the morning the view from the view points were foggy.
Driving along the gorge we realized the gorge has a ton of water falls, some big some small, some have nicely built access and some are more obscure.
The first one we stopped at was a small water fall with a short hike, there was a ranger led program going on at the same time we were there. We couldn’t attend the program but managed to hear snippets from the ranger. It was from him that I heard that the gorge has over a 100 water falls.
The next one was a more obscure one with no clear view of the falls and we had to do a couple of miles round trip to clearly view the falls, which we had to pass, but the hiker in us wanted to do at least a small hike and hence we took the small hike to the famous Multnomah falls. The distance was small but it had more ups and downs. Thanks to the rain and the abundant shade in the gorge there were a lot of ferns growing underneath the tall trees. Frankly, I had never seen such lush green fern undergrowth till then. The path had a magic of its own. It took a while for us to reach our destination but it was well worth the time.
Multnomah falls, is the biggest falls on the gorge and a true tourist attraction. It is not as big as the other falls in the world but definitely very scenic. It is a cascade of 2 water falls and a viewing bridge in front of the falls. It is a small hike up to the bridge to view the falls in full glory and the bridge was real crowded. There was a hike going up to top of the falls which we passed. Since it was time for lunch we stopped at the restaurant near the falls for food, being vegetarians the only option we had was the burger and the waitress commented that they get a lot of visitors from Texas and I thought we Texans need some escape from heat every now and then.
Driving along we made a stop at one last water falls called Horse tail falls, Sandhya was very happy to for she could take off her shoes and get her feet wet and I was happy to click pictures of the falls and her. If I remember right, this was the last water fall along the scenic highway and the road merged on to the actual highway after this.
Driving along the highway towards Mt Hood, we saw the exit for Bonneville Dam and after a couple of moments of hesitation we took it. The dam wasn’t much and Sandhya wasn’t impressed at all. But it was almost full and due to security reasons they didn’t allow us any where on the dam.
The exit on the road that would have led to Mt Hood was so backed up that we passed Mt Hood and made a U turn and head home. The drive back even though not the official scenic route but it was still pretty and scenic most of the way.
On the next post I will write about Crater Lake and Redwoods.