I was really inspired by Jule's series of "Cute Toronto" & I am often getting asked by traveling friends what they should do in town, so I decided to make my own series this summer of my favorite places in Portland!
I was born and raised on the east coast, but I decided to pick up and move 3,000 miles because I fell in love with this city. Almost 12 years later, I am still just as in love with this city as the day that I arrived. I find amazing things here that inspire me daily and I really want to share some of those things with you.
I decided to start with one of my favorite drives - The Historic Columbia River Highway (Route 30). When I first visited Portland, I had never seen a waterfall and I really had no idea that Oregon had such beautiful natural landscapes in store for me.
The drive takes about 2+ hours from Portland and back. You could skip the historic highway and take I-84 (also named Columbia River Highway for added confusion) out to the falls in 30 minutes and it is a pretty drive along the river, but I am afraid you would really be missing out.
The HCRH starts in Troutdale. You can either take NE Halsey straight through Portland or exit 16 - Wood Village on I-84 E. Troutdale is home to a few darling stops including a Barn Museum, The Harlow House, and the Rail Depot Museum, a small outlet mall, and McMennimins Edgefeild.
McMenamin's Edgefeild is usually my first stop because it is an excellent place to grab a bite, enjoy some delicious local beer, or perhaps take a soak in the soaking pool at Ruby Spa. The grounds are beautiful and it is a lovely experience to just walk around bit and take in the gorgeous gardens, gift shop, and charming old buildings. They even have a golf course if you are into that kind of thing. Of course this stop is optional!
After your stop at Edgefeild, you can continue on the to HCRH to your first beautiful site - The Women's Forum. The Women's Forum is a beautiful viewpoint for you to catch your first glimpse of the gorgeous Columbia Gorge.
Next, follow the winding road onward on the HCRH and head to the Overlook Vista House. This beautiful building was built in 1917 as a comfort station for travelers of the HCRH & as a momument to Oregon Pioneers. It offers more breathtaking views in addition to a free small volunteer-run gallery of Oregon History. You will also find a public restroom here.
There are 4 small falls on the way to Multnomah Falls including Latourell, Sheppards Dell, Bridal Veil, & Wahkeena. Each of these falls are just a short hike from the highway and all of the trails are beautiful and easy to walk. Look for signs & you will find a few small parking lots. Most of these stops also have picnic areas and view points to take in all the natural beauty.
Finally, you reach Multnomah Falls. You can't miss it! There is a parking lot right in front of the falls. It's a very easy walk right over to the falls. You can also hike up to a bridge to get a another view of the falls and the gorge. The falls are 620 feet high and inclue two gorgeous drops. It's a breathtaking place to be.
There is a free visitor center where you can learn about the local eco system and ask questions of the friendly and knowledgable volunteers. A gift shop & snack bar are also available. Hot dogs not your thing? Be sure to make a reservation at Multnomah Falls Lodge for a beautiful meal.
After Multnomah Falls, you can hop right on I-84 and head back to Portland. If you are still craving adventure, continue on the HCRH to check out 3 more small waterfalls, Ainsworth State Park, and the Bonneville Dam. This route will also take you to Hood River, an adorable little town known for the Hood River Fruit Loop - a fabulous route through many darling farms, fruit stands, and shops.
For more information, maps, and history of the HCRH, check out this fabulous website! Enjoy your trip!