Hike to Fairy Falls

Oregon Wahkeena Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

Dog Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

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!

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Daypack
  • Headlamp
  • 22oz beer
Read More

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

Trekked this trail in January. I'd highly recommend bringing micro spikes with you if you go in the December to February timeframe. I did not and took a number of spills as I hiked to the falls. The hike to the falls was longer than I had anticipated despite it being a shorter hike. The layers of the waterfalls are amazing. In my mind I had envisioned the falls to be larger, but this didn't take away from the experience once there at all. If you are near the Columbia River Gorge, definitely put this on your list of trails and falls to explore!

6 months ago
6 months ago

I hiked here starting at Wahclella Falls on the Trail 420 loop to Multnomah Falls. The trail follows along the creek, the moss was and thick trees was my favorite part. I went later in the afternoon so the crowds were thinning out. There are lots of connecting trails in this area so you can pick out a number of different day hikes. The switch backs above Wahclella Falls was the most significant elevation gain, above that the trail is no longer paved and the trail becomes muddy in spots. It is nice to be able to escape into the wilderness so close to the city. Looking forward to many more hikes in the area.

11 months ago
11 months ago

Although the trail to get there requires some effort, the views along the way are fantastic. The stream has some ice cold water if you need to cool off. Or you can get a nice splash from Fairy falls when you get there.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

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!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

One of the more unique falls in the area and a moderate hike with a great reward.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I recommend following the Wahkeena Falls Loop Trail. It's about 5 miles, and takes you past about 5 more falls, including Multnomah Falls.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

We parked at the Wahkeena Falls parking lot and proceeded to hike the Wahkeena Falls trail to the right of the viewing platform. We didn't see any signs for Fairy Falls but proceeded to go up the trail until the Leemon Viewpoint and then saw a marker for Trail #420. And then we felt validated that we were going in the right direction. A great short morning hike before lunch in Hood River. Bonus: There was also a nice bench right next to Fairy Falls for my parents to rest.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Seth Whelden

Director of Photography.

 

 Born on the small island of Nantucket 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, it was always easy for me to appreciate the beauty of this world. Moving to Portland 7 years ago has only enhanced my desire to capture the stunning scenery around me, and driven me to go further in search of the perfect shot.

 

 By day I'm a freelance director of photography working out of Portland as my home base. I also co-own a stock footage company (The Stacks) with my wife Kelly.

 

 My mission is to bring my passion for light, color, tone, depth and framing to the brands that define Portland, Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.

 

 Visit my website: sethwhelden.com

Nearby Adventures

Hike to Seldom Falls

Oregon / Seldom Falls

Every spring when mountain snow begins to thaw, the great meadow at Lake of the Woods fills with water.

44 Saves

Explore the Portland Japanese Garden

Oregon / Portland Japanese Garden

While the Portland Japanese Garden is a popular place for tourists, it's also a favorite for Portland residents as it's located right in Washington Park close to trails and across from the Rose Garde.

195 Saves

Run the Saltzman Road Trail

Oregon / Lower Saltzman Road Trailhead

This trail is an easy out and back from either the west or east side of Forest Park. The east trailhead is off NW Skyline Blvd, on Saltzman Road, which is a dirt/gravel road like the trail.

35 Saves