My family has been enjoying the same hike through the Columbia River Gorge, a national scenic area, for decades now. My parents began hiking this easy trail in the early 70’s and continued to use it as the family grew. Years are marked in family photos with each child taking our turn riding in the baby backpack carrier and up through our restless teenage years.

Western Sword Fern

The trail is referred to by most hiking sources as Upper McCord Creek, which is just east of Multnomah Falls. It is an easy up and down hike with a total elevation gain of 600 feet and only a couple miles long.


What I love about the hike is how you get to experience the many different microclimates of the Pacific Northwest. The hike begins in a wet forest through a series of switchbacks. Western Sword Ferns carpet the mountainsides and Trillium pokes it’s head up here and there.

Succulents growing along basalt cliffs

As the elevation increases, the landscape shifts to a rocky, basalt area. There are gorgeous succulents growing in the crevices of the rock, should you slow down enough to look. An almost shrine-like bench is carved into the rock next to the trail – our family’s regular photo spot.

Stopping for the family hike photo

We took my mom for a hike on our trail to celebrate her sixtieth birthday. It was one of Juniper’s first hikes and her head is barely visible in the front pack. Her cousin Lily has already graduated to the backpack carrier.

Hiking along the basalt cliffside

The trail cuts into the side of the basalt and there are some sketchy railings to keep you from falling over the side. Believe it or not, even as little kids we carefully walked this trail. Water droplets fall down the hillside and onto your head as you pass this part.

Scouler's Corydalis

Lovely Scouler’s Corydalis surrounds you when you begin to notice the sound of falling water. Not too much further and the beautiful double falls comes into view. My mother-in-law, who was visiting this month, posed for a picture with me here.

Me & my mother-in-law at the double falls

In dry months, it can be possible to skip along large rocks above the falls and picnic at the top. This time of year though the water level was far too high to try it. Instead, we took in the sights, turned around and hiked back down. We talked about the many years of enjoyment the hike has given us over food and beer at nearby Edgefield in Troutdale.

Have any favorite spots of your own to share? Better yet, have any of those favorite spots turned into family traditions?

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Written by Renee Wilkinson