Winter Wonderland of the Fairie


On the second Saturday of the New Year, I took the old Columbia River Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead, several miles west of Multnomah Falls. It felt like a great day to spend in the land of the Faerie.

There was the promise of fresh snow in the higher elevations, low but reasonable temperatures, a visit to Fairy Falls, a lunch break at eerie Devils Rest and a pleasant loop by Angels Rest. And, if the leprechauns were willing, I might see some critters.

The Trail began by climbing to a foot bridge below Wahkeena Falls, then switchbacking up the cliffs to a nice viewpoint over the Gorge. For the next one-half mile the Trail steeply ascended the bottom of the slot canyon of Wahkeena Creek until reaching the much-photographed Fairy Falls.

This was an idyllic spot with an old bench and several mature cedar trees standing near the intersection of two streams. Above the Falls I took the loop by Wahkeena Point until reaching the intersection with the Devils Rest Trail, about 1,500 feet above the Trailhead.

The next portion of the hike was a series of steep switchbacks leading to the top of the cliffs overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. From there to Devils Rest, the highest point in the far Western Gorge, it was an easy stroll of less than one mile on a very enjoyable stretch of Gorge hiking. The understory of the mature forest of hemlocks and Douglas firs was open, unlike many locations on the Oregon side of the Gorge.

Years ago I located a nice viewpoint of the Gorge less than one-quarter mile from Devils Rest. It made a nice location for a break.

After an enjoyable snack at the viewless summit, I began a mostly steep descent on the Foxglove Trail to Angels Rest, an ancient lava flow of Columbia River basalt with some of the best views in the Gorge.

In several miles the Wahkeena Trail was reached and I soon returned to the Trailhead, dallying at Fairy Falls on the way.  All in all the hike was 10.5 miles in length with 2,800 feet of elevation gain.

As I sometimes say – – – a day spent hiking in the wilderness is not subtracted from one’s allotted days on this old ball of mud.

Delicate Fairy Falls

Delicate Fairy Falls

Tell-tell droopy top of a Mountain Hemlock at Devils Rest

Tell-tell droopy top of a Mountain Hemlock at Devils Rest

Reflections of Hamilton Mountain and Beacon Rock in the Columbia River

Reflections of Hamilton Mountain and Beacon Rock in the Columbia River

Devils Rest

Devils Rest

Below Wahkeena Falls

Below Wahkeena Falls

Patterns in the fresh snow

Patterns in the fresh snow

Dormant wild Roses

Dormant wild Roses

Stark beauty of winter

Stark beauty of winter

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: , , ,

4 comments

  1. Your first image, the falls, is marvelous. Somehow it convenes both power and delicacy.

    Like

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