There are many things I hate in this beautiful world. Spiders, paying for parking, the 6th mass extinction of Earth’s biodiversity…in no particular order. But more dreadful than all of those events, I hate the cold. Seriously, I’m the wimpiest wimp when it comes to anything under 65 degrees, and a lot of that is probably to blame on my Southern California upbringing. This is also why winter is my least favorite season. I hate doing anything in the winter. I hate waking up, I hate going to sleep, and I hate going outside.
So naturally, I decided to go on a hike in the dead of winter in dreary snow-suffocated Oregon.
A friend-of-a-friend was in town visiting, so like the third wheel I am, I tagged along on their exploration of Portland. Despite living in Portland, Oregon for almost a year now (8 months now, woohoo almost full term), I haven’t gone on too many hikes in the surrounding area. Mostly because it has been too cold. Nature can wait until the summer, I’m in no rush y’all.
We decided on the picturesque and iconic Multnomah Falls.
Again, I had never been because cold outdoors + hiking sounds absolutely horrendous. Good thing I did it anyway because it was actually pretty incredible. Multnomah Falls is 611 feet tall, and in winter, it’s pretty much all ice.
Driving from Portland, it usually takes about 30 minutes on I-84 and take exit 31. ORRRR, if you wanna take the scenic route like we did, get off on exit 28 (Bridal Veil) and follow the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway for about 3 miles. You’ll pass a few other falls on the way, but don’t worry, you’ll know Multnomah Falls when you get there. Scenic route takes about 45 minutes, so that’s an extra 15 minutes of being warm, hurray!
Be careful, the parking lot might be covered in ice. As you make your way to the STRENUOUS 3.5 minute walk to the base of the falls, I’d recommend stopping by the little coffee and roasted nut stand. You will thank me later. Pets are allowed as long as they are on a leash (yanno, if you can convince them to get out of the warm car).
A plus to visiting in the winter is that there are less people. Still a good crowd, but a lot less than I imagine visit during the warmer months. Amazing how Oregonians don’t mind the freezing wind chipping away at their face. Truly a miracle, I am in awe.
But stopping at the base wasn’t enough (aha), we decided to climb to the Bensen Bridge. Short history fact, Simon Benson was some rich dude who used to own the falls in the 1900s, and then gave it to the City of Portland (who then gave it to the USDA Forest Service).
Most likely, if it’s cold and icy, the trail to the bridge will be CLOSED. You should definitely take heed and remember that safety should always be your number one priority.
There was a reason the trail was closed. The path was covered in snow and ice, probably half a foot thick. We had to pull ourselves along by the chained fence. Then again, I was wearing $17 dollar PacSun clearance boots, so that could’ve been why.
The bridge brings you even closer to the falls, in case you wanted more cold, wet, mist to sprinkle all over you. You also get a pretty nice aerial view of the bottom half of the falls dropping into the water below.
We decided to climb higher. At this point, there was zero traction and we were slippin’ all over the place. We made it about 10 feet before we gave up, but the pictures were nice! If you’re crazy–I mean, brave (I guess), you could go higher, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Even getting back down from the bridge was tragic enough.
After Multnomah, I would recommend stopping by a few other falls while you’re in the area! The cold never bothered you anyway, right?