Ultimate Guide to the Gorge Day Hike

The best thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of nature around us. PNW is home to more waterfalls than anywhere else in North America. According to Waterfalls Northwest, Washington is home to over 3,000 waterfalls! Waterfall chasing became one of my favorite activities when I have visitors.

This is my go-to itinerary that shows my guests the best of PNW: views, food, hikes, waterfalls, and beers. The hikes and waterfalls I choose are shorter (1 mile or less) because we’re going for fun and quantity and because you’ll need some energy to explore what Hood River has to offer as well!

Let’s get started!

7 am

Head out to Ben and Esther’s for a nice breakfast. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that the shop is entirely vegan. Give their lox a try, it’s made with carrots!

Make sure you take the Historic Columbia River Hwy instead of Highway 84. We’re taking the scenic route for maximum PNW beauty.

Scenic Stop 1: Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint

Scenic Stop 2: Vista House

9 am

By the time you’re done with breakfast, finish your photoshoots at the viewpoint, and arrive at Bridal Veil Falls, it should be about 9 am. You have 2 options here: a 0.6-mile hike to the Falls Trail or a 0.5 mile to Overlook Loop Trail.

10 am

Once you’re done admiring Bridal Veils, you’ll drive down 3 miles and stop at Wahkeena Falls. Wahkeena is a 0.5-mile hike but I recommend going further here and doing a 2.2-mile hike to see the charming Fairy Falls.

View of Vista House from Portland Women's Forum View Point in Portland, OR. Picture by Through Laura's Lens
Portland Women's Forum View Point in Portland, OR. Picture by Laura Zahm
Vista House. Picture by Through Laura's Lens
Vista House. Picture by local photographer, Laura Zahm

11 am

Next on our trip is Horsetail Falls but before that, you’ll pass by Multnomah Falls which I don’t recommend you stop at. Multnomah is a beautiful 620ft tall waterfall that you can see right from the highway. It’s also the most visited and popular waterfall. The beauty of the fall is ruined by the number of people visiting it and parking is almost impossible to find. If you happen to find parking, it is a fun quick stop but don’t sweat it!

Horsetail Falls is an easy 2.6 miles loop that will take you to 3 waterfalls. If you’re feeling tired by this point, you can opt to do the 0.4-mile trail to see Ponytail falls.

1:30 pm

Time for a break! We’re making a pit stop in Cascade Locks to stop for lunch and much-deserved beer. I like to stop at Thunder Island Brewing for their well-named, Post-Hike Pilsner. Next door is a well-known local spot called Brigham Fish Market where you can grab some delicious fish & chips.

Wahkeena Falls. Picture by Through Laura's Lens
Wahkeena Falls, OR. Picture by local photographer, Laura Zahm

3:30 pm

After lunch, we’re driving 15 mins to Lancaster Falls. This great little trail is 1.6 miles long and you can see 3 waterfalls!

5 pm

You got to the end! Hood River is our last stop. There’s a lot of art and culture in this city so take your time, walk around and explore. Stop by the many brewpubs and wineries that the city has to offer. My usual go-to is Ferment Brewing and pFriem (can you tell that I’m a beer girl yet?). Their brews and food are on point, and I always take home a growler of something tasty.

Our day adventure ends today but if you’re itching for more, you can turn this trip into an overnight trip and check out where to go on this article!

Hood River, OR with Mt. Hood in the background

Bonus Trip

If you don’t have time for a day trip, here are some closer suggestions to chase waterfalls:

Lacamas Park

Only 15 minutes away from Vancouver, Lacamas Park is home to 3 waterfalls; Pothole Falls, Woodburn Falls, and Lower Falls. Following this 3.1 miles loop trail will take you through all 3 falls.

Lucia and Moulton Falls Park

This park is about 40 minutes north of Vancouver. The 5 miles out and back trail is a fun peaceful hike and one of my personal favorite

Lucia Falls in Yacolt. Picture by Through Laura's Lens
Lucia Falls, Yacolt. Picture by Laura Zahm

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