Hike to Larch Mountain's Summit

14.4 Miles Round Trip - 4010 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

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!

Tags

Snowshoeing
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Details

14.4 Miles
4010 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

A bit disappointing

Everything you've heard about the views from the top are true - they're spectacular. Hood is right in front of you, and you can easily see from Rainier to Jefferson on clear days. But, I was a bit disappointed when I finally reached the top of Larch after ascending thousands of feet. There are almost no views the entire way up, and then the only place on the summit with a view is the viewing platform itself - a roughly 10' x 10' concrete platform surrounded by fencing and about a five minute walk from the parking lot (which itself is only a half hour's drive from Portland). So, while the views are great, for all the effort of hiking up there is virtually zero solitude and no chance even to explore the summit or find an "alternative" viewing point. (For the same reason, I would actually warn photographers off of coming here without a specific shot in mind - there's no foreground save for a bit of rock extending off of Sherrard Point, but it's pretty sketchy to get to.)

Minimal Risk, Maximum Reward

Larch mountain offers the most versatile views in the Columbia gorge area, giving you a panoramic view of the cascades and both sides of the Columbia river. The drive is lengthy, ascending through the woods with multiple twists and turns. However, the hike to the summit from the parking lot is extremely short and makes it a great destination for photographers and sightseers.