Larch Mountain hike

This past weekend we hiked further than I have ever gone in a single day – and not necessarily on purpose!

I had a friend mention that she had recently hiked to Larch Mountain and that it was a challenging but doable nine miles round trip. This sounded exactly like what we wanted to do for a day hike!

So, I searched the Internet and found the trailhead for “Larch Mountain,” which turned out to be Multnomah Falls. The last time we visited Multnomah Falls the 100-year-old bridge was closed due to a rock fall, so we were excited to go back and walk across it this time.

Multnomah Falls, quiet and peaceful early in the morning.

Multnomah Falls, quiet and peaceful early in the morning.

The hike immediately started uphill, and frankly never stopped until we reached the top…seven long, hard, slow miles later!

Elevation profile for our hike - 4,000 feet up in the first 7 miles!

Elevation profile for our hike – 4,000 feet up in the first 7 miles!

Now, I’m not great at math (next to spelling, it was my worst subject in school) – but I’m pretty sure seven miles up and seven miles back is 14, not nine!

Resigned to our fate, we took in the views at the summit (which were well worth the arduous hike) and began preparing for the long trip back down the trail.

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From the summit of Larch Mountain viewing Mt. Hood.

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Looking out over the Bull Run watershed – a protected natural area that serves as the source of Portland’s fabulous drinking water.

We stopped in the parking lot (most reasonable people apparently drive here instead of hike!) to assess our options. We could return the way we came (Larch Mountain trail), or we could walk up the road a short distance and pick up a different trail that would eventually lead us back down to our car.

Although it was a longer route, we decided to take the Oneonta Trail to the Franklin Ridge trail – and I am sure glad we did!

Our route: Multnomah Falls trail, Larch Mountain trail, Oneonta trail, Franklin Ridge trail, then back again.

Our route: Multnomah Falls trail, Larch Mountain trail, Oneonta trail, Franklin Ridge trail, then back again.

These last two trails (Oneonta and Franklin Ridge) were thoroughly enjoyable. They weren’t nearly as rocky or steep as the Larch Mountain trail, and at times the scenes reminded us of hiking in Ireland. Plus, they were nearly devoid of other hikers, which is always a bonus because our dogs Honeydew and Linus are trail hogs and tend to scrape the knees of other hikers with their big packs.

Honeydew and Linus - ready to knock any unsuspecting hikers off the trail with their big packs.

Honeydew and Linus – ready to knock any unsuspecting hikers off the trail with their big packs.

Nearly ten hours and 17 miles later we made it back to Multnomah Falls.

And I must say I never again need to visit Multnomah Falls on a Saturday afternoon! There were hundreds and hundreds of visitors, most of them hot and miserable towing small, tired and grumpy children up the steep trail to the top of the falls. (I always feel bad for these people. As it turns out, the top of the waterfall is really just a creek! Not a great payoff for such a difficult hike. It definitely looks better from down below.)

Upon exiting the visitors center area Honeydew got snapped at by a 35-pound pug named “Waffles.” Luckily we all escaped unscathed and dear ‘little’ Waffles will have a harrowing story to tell all of his friends when get gets home from vacation.

We too have a harrowing story to tell about a nice nine mile hike that became a challenging ~17 mile adventure! It turns out my friend that suggested the hike had started from a different place (obviously), so I learned a valuable lesson about confirming distances and routes on the map before we step foot on the trail! But, as you’ll see below, we had a lot of fun and got to see some amazing sites.

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One of several creeks flowing into Multnomah Creek (which eventually becomes Multnomah Falls).

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Glenn and Linus crossing one of several log bridges.

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Honeydew (left) and Linus (right) suffering through one more wildflower picture in the hot sun.

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Multnomah Creek

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This bridge had a sign saying “Damaged bridge, only one person at a time” – it wiggled a little too much for my liking.

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I’d never seen foxglove growing in the wild.

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Taking a breather at the summit of Larch Mountain.

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