The major waterfall of Wahkeena Creek may just be the most scenic waterfall along the historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. Wahkeena Creek crashes from step to step down a narrow crack between bulbous basalt outcroppings in a final furious plunge before joining the Columbia River downstream. A trail leads from a commemorative monument, honoring the completion of the original Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, at the parking area to the base of the falls, crossing on an ornate stone bridge. Wahkeena Falls is unique among the major waterfalls in this section of the Gorge in that it possesses a significant alluvial fan in both size and elevation. The base of the falls lies a good 100 vertical feet above the road, which both helps aggrandize the falls and creates an unfortunate level of foreshortening. Lofty maple trees line the cascading creek below the falls, framing the scene in outstanding fashion. Any serious photographer should plan to spend a good hour or two here at least once in their lifetime.
- Wahkeena Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
- Known Alternate Names: The Necktie, Gordon Falls
The falls were originally known as Gordon Falls. In 1915, after the completion of the original highway, the falls were renamed to Wahkeena - a Yakima Indian word meaning "most beautiful"Â. A now abandoned spur trail to the crest of the falls once prompted the upper portion of the falls to be dubbed "The Necktie"Â, which then led to confusion about the naming and existence of a waterfall known as Necktie Falls.
The falls are located 1/2 mile west of Multnomah Falls Lodge. If you're driving from I-84, turn off the freeway at the Bridal Veil exit, and proceed east along the Scenic Highway for about 1 mile to the signed falls. A picnic area is on the opposite side of the road.