Featured image: Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls east of Portland, Oregon (photo credit: Columbia River Gorge Natural Scenic Area—U.S. Forest Service)
Three weeks ago, I drove past Multnomah Falls for the first time since the devastating Eagle Creek fire. Much of the landscape is scarred from the fire. Vegetation has vanished, and tree trunks are charred behind the historic lodge. It’s a miracle that the lodge was spared.
The fire has affected hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge, and our winter rains have added to the impact. Rockfalls and mudslides closed roads and trails.
The latest victim is the popular Wahkeena-Multnomah loop, which climbs a steep hillside at the falls. The U.S. Forest Service closed this trail on Friday after a rockfall between the Benson Bridge and the first switchback at Multnomah Falls. Hikers on the trail had to be escorted out. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
The rockfall on the Wahkeena-Multnomah loop on April 5, 2019 (photo credit: Columbia River Gorge Natural Scenic Area—U.S. Forest Service)
After a sweep of the trail, the Forest Service closed the entire Wahkeena-Multnomah loop until further notice. Crews will assess the situation when the weather is drier to determine whether the trail is safe to reopen.
In the meantime, the trail from the base of the falls to Benson Bridge will remain open.
For updates on the Wahkeena-Multnomah loop trail, check the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area—U.S. Forest Service Facebook page.
A view of the heavy smoke from the Eagle Creek Fire during a descent into Portland on September 11, 2017. Mount St. Helens is in the background. (photo by Cheryl Landes)