Hike to Fairy Falls

Wahkeena Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Seth Whelden

Get a quick escape from town or recover from a tough workday on this pretty easy 2-mile roundtrip hike. Time it right and catch the sunset from Lemmon’s Viewpoint on the way back.

Fairy Falls sits in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, not much more than a mile from the Wahkeena Trailhead. The parking lot is right off the Old Columbia River Highway and will be packed with cars in the summer.

Head up the trail towards Wahkeena Falls, which is not far up the hill. This falls is impressive for sure, but tends to be quite busy in the summer. After taking in the view continue up the trail about 600 feet in elevation gain over a half-mile of switchbacks to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. A great spot just off the paved path to take in views up and down the Columbia (albeit moderately obscured by trees and such). From here just continue up the trail through Wahkeena Canyon until reaching the falls, another half mile or so up.

This is far from the largest, nor most impressive falls in the gorge, but it’s a great peaceful destination for those with limited time (i.e. after work). On a weekday afternoon, you may be all alone, and that’s really the best time to do this hike: after a long day of work.

As far as the hike goes, the elevation gain is nothing to squawk at but overall this hike is not particularly difficult. It’s perfect for beginners, or those that just want to get some hiking in after a long day at the office.

Besides some photo opportunities at the falls and at Lemmon’s Viewpoint, this hike is more about getting out of the city fast and getting some fresh air. I definitely recommend climbing around the rocks at the falls and sticking your head under the water. Very refreshing, though you’ll probably be wet for the car ride home.

If timed just right, or you run down the trail like I did, you can watch the sunset from Lemmon’s Viewpoint on the way down. If you brought a beer along, this might be a good time to crack it open and chill for a bit.

If you have more time and want to make more of a day out of this one, continue up the trail to Devil’s Rest. This is definitely a solid “moderate” level hike with another 1700 feet of elevation gain, with some stunning scenery along the way.

There are ton’s of trails that connect all over the gorge, and here you can also connect over to Multnomah Falls and beyond. Unless you plan to take one of these routes or go to Devil’s Rest at the top, save this hike for when you’re pressed for time, and try to avoid weekends. Parking is free and no pass is required. Definitely remove your valuables from your car though because car theft in the gorge is not uncommon.

After you’re done, this hike is so close to the city that going back to Portland is your best option for food and beer!

Distance

2 Miles RT

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Dog Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Nearby Lodging

Cascade Locks / Portland East KOA

Cascade Locks, Oregon

Longview North / Mount St Helens KOA

Castle Rock, Washington

Community Photos

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Crowded, but nice falls

The parking lot was crowded when I went, and others day when I drive by it usually is. The hike is steep, but not difficult for someone who has hiked before. The falls are cool, and a great photo op!

Lovely Hike!

This was a fun and pleasant hike in the Columbia Gorge. Lots of photo opportunities, both with your camera phone or a nice digital camera. Overall an easy hike, a bit of an incline in the beginning but very manageable. Views are breathtaking! Highly recommend it.

Happy Adventure!

I agree that this is an easy hike to get quickly into nature! Multiple locations to see beautiful water falls. Great for long exposure photography. Went on a mild January Sunday and it was not too crowded!

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