Let's take a tour of waterfalls on the old road in the Columbia Gorge before you get to the Multnomah Falls. We will go to about three or four waterfalls that are easily accessible without too much walking or climbing.
At Latourell Falls you can see entablature jointing. This is a distinctive jointing pattern found in the Columbia River basalt flows. Stress, produced when lava cools and contracts, causes joints to form. Columnar joints (colonnades) are found below the entablature. The were formed perpendicular to the lower cooling surface and are beautiful prisms and columns. You can also see such jointing at Shepperds Dell, Crown Point and Multnomah Falls.
Height: 249 feet
Access: car or hike
In Guy W. Talbot State Park, this fall of Latourell Creek is named after Joseph Latourell, a prominent Columbia River Gorge settler. It is on the Historic Highway, 3.4 miles west of Exit 28 off I-84. It's a short walk to the viewpoint from the park's picnic area to the viewpoint.
This 242 falls was once known as Gordon Falls in honor of pioneer land-owner F.E. Gordon. In 1915, a committee of the Mazamas changed the name of the creek and falls to Wahkeena - the Yakama Indian word for "most beautiful."
Wahkeena Trail climbs to 900 feet for a spectacular view of the Columbia River, described by Rudyard Kippling as "penned between gigantic stone walls crowed with the ruined bastions of Oriental palaces." Traveling among rocks festooned with deer fern, the trail follows the creek close to its source and enters a steep forest of moss-hung vine maple, sword fern, and 200-ft Douglas firs to end at Larch Mountain Trail in 2.8 miles. Wahkeena Trail connects with several other trails enroute and allows many loop possibilities. Wahkeena Falls Picnic Area provides a picnic shelter and a stone fireplace.
Wahkeena Creek is isolated and unique. Without a network of tributary streams flowing from higher elevations, Wahkeena Creek is isolated from adjacent watersheds. This isolation has created a unique habitat for 8 species of aquatic insects that are only found in the Columbia River Gorge. No other watershed in the Pacific Northwest can yet claim this many endemic species. Two of these insects, the Wahkeena flightless stonefly (Nemoura wahkeena) and Anderson's caddisfly (Neothremma andersoni) are only found in the Wahkeena watershed.
Height: 242 feet
Access: car or hiking
This fall along Wahkeena Creek can be seen from the Wahkeena picnic area across the Historic Highway. There are parking spaces at the picnic area. It is 0.5 miles west of Multnomah Falls. The Yakama Tribe word "wahkeena" means "most beautiful
The view from the top of the trail descending into Sheppers Dell is positively dizzying. This trail, nestled into the crevices and crags of the Columbia Gorge, is a narrow pathway.
Sheppards Dell Falls
Height: upper falls 35-50 feet; lower falls 40-60 feet
Access: car or hiking
The two tiers of this falls can be seen from the bridge crossing at Sheppards Dell State Park, two miles west on the Historic Highway from Exit 28 off I-84. The lower falls is a horsetail formation and the upper falls is a plunge formation