Portland, Oregon for a Day Trip to the Columbia Gorge Waterfalls

As soon as I began planning a trip to Portland, I knew I couldn’t leave without a trip to the Columbia Gorge. It’s famous for incredible views of the Columbia and gorgeous waterfalls, and it’s less than an hour outside Portland. I wanted to get in as much exploring as possible, so I got an early start with some Stumptown coffee and headed for Crown Point on the historic Columbia Gorge highway. The historic Vista house is a gorgeous example of Art Noveau style public architecture, and it’s positioned on a promontory over the Columbia Gorge with incredible views in all directions. It’s a can’t-miss stop along the Gorge for photo ops and a quick rest stop.

As soon as I arrived in Portland, I started to spot postcards of Multnomah Falls. It’s one of Oregon’s most iconic spots, and it’s only a 15-20 minute drive on from Crown Point. The upper falls are visible from the road and it’s only a short walk to the footbridge between the upper and lower falls. We went in late spring/early summer so the falls were very impressive! This was only a short stop for us. It’s an incredible spot to see, but mobbed with tourists and we were here to hike! On to the next stop!

It’s hard to pick the perfect hike when you have only a day to experience somewhere as perfect as the Columbia Gorge, but a hiking-obsessed friend recommended the Eagle Creek Trail to Punch Bowl Falls and then on to High Bridge and we loved it. The trail is about 6.5 miles round trip through narrow canyons and since we did it in June, water was high enough in some places to require wading. It wasn’t a particularly challenging hike in terms of elevation gain or distance, but with narrow trails along canyon walls, swim breaks, and lots of exploring it definitely took us all day to enjoy the trail and waterfalls. Punch Bowl falls is the main attraction and it is stunning. It’s hard to describe how beautiful this perfect waterfall is – you’ll have to go! It’s not the only waterfall you’ll see along the way, just the most photogenic! The Oregon old growth and mossy canyon walls are gorgeous in their own right, even without the waterfalls.

After a long swim break, we continued on to High Bridge which is a narrow foot bridge over the 120 foot drop to Eagle Creek. Drop a pebble over the rail and listen to it hit far below! Parts of the trail to get there are quite narrow and would be difficult for someone afraid of heights – but it’s worth it!

We were exhausted after a long day of incredible scenery and lots of activity and were happy to roll back into Portland (after a quick stop to see the sunset at Crown Point). We were starving, so we hit up the food trucks around Alder on the way back to our hotel and ate a ridiculous amount of food! So delicious, can’t miss the food trucks on a Portland trip!

Photos via:

crown point

Columbia River

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Upper Falls, OR 8-13

Punch Bowl Falls

Punch Bowl Falls - Eagle Creek

high bridge

Where I stayed / started

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