Hike to Larch Mountain's Summit

Multnomah Falls Parking Lot - Search Nearby - Added by Ted S

Distance: 14.4 mile round trip. Elevation gain: 4,010 ft. Views of Mount Hood, Adams, Jefferson, Rainier and St. Helen's. Endless waterfalls & creek sights along the trail. All day adventure & excellent training hike. An accomplishment you can share.

Done as a loop or one way shuttle (in summer/fall), the full Larch Mountain experience starts at the large (but still always full) Multnomah Falls parking lot. There you'll have the chance to grab a final snack, use the restroom, and fill water bottles before joining all the "tourist" hikers on the paved walk up to the top of the falls, where they tend to stop and this adventure truly begins.

What the crowds don't know as they turn back around is that the Multnomah Falls is just the first in the series. Within 10 minutes of departing the overlook, you'll have wandered past a small, but immensely powerful fall, under a rock overhang and up to another sizable fall with several more to follow. No, none of them are near the height of Multnomah, but you can get a whole lot closer and even go in during the summer (watch for the swift current and cold temps).

This continues on for miles to come with falls named and unnamed as you snake up up the mountain. Eventually the trail turns away from the water though it remains a fairly spectacular view the entire way to the top with a variety of pacific northwest terrain types depending on the section and time of year.

As you near the top, the trees thin out and you enter a wooded picnic area before stepping foot onto pavement - there is a parking lot, restroom and water up top (you can drive here, but why?!). It's a few hundred more yards up some large wood and dirt stairs to the vista point where you can see incredible views of the Cascade Mountains.

This hike is done year round though you will find snow (and potentially significant amounts) starting late fall and lasting through spring. The summit road closes with this change making for even fewer crowds and more fun!

Distance

14.4 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

4010 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Snowshoeing, Hiking

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Nearby Lodging

Cascade Locks / Portland East KOA

Cascade Locks, Oregon

Longview North / Mount St Helens KOA

Castle Rock, Washington

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: 

Get out what you put in

This is a good hike for people training for bigger mountains, or someone who enjoys a good PNW forest hike. I would recommend starting at Horsetail Falls rather than Multnomah Falls. I think it adds a couple miles to the trip, but it’s worth it to hike in and around some of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls, including Ponytail and Triple Falls.

Easiest way to gain 4,000' in the Gorge

This is a great training hike (or trail run) for folks coming from Portland looking to pack in as much distance + elevation gain in as short a time as possible. I've completed this route twice - once in January and once in September. Both times I was slowed to a tiptoe over the rocky areas passing some of the waterfalls. These areas are incredibly slippery regardless of footwear and I have seen people fall on both of my trips, one nearly off the cliff and into the river. Be careful and take your time!

Want the best of Larch? Go in Winter

The reviews below bring up some good points about Larch -- the way up is really more of a forest climb that starts with waterfalls but soon becomes pretty repetitive. Arriving at the top to find the parking lot is a bit of a let down as well which is why I highly suggest making this hike in the winter when it becomes an entirely different world. Walking through the snow for miles, it's common to have the place to yourself and since the road up top is closed till spring, you'll know everyone you encounter "earned it" too. Even the walk becomes more interesting, often with ice (gear up appropriately) around the falls and a majestic winter landscape higher up.

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