Larch Mountain (OR)

Summit: 4,055ft

Native Land of the: Cowlitz, Cascades and Grand Ronde

14.5m 4,010ft gain

Not to be confused with the smaller Larch Mountain across the river in Washington, this Larch Mountain is one of two peaks directly in view during the start of a drive east on I-84 from Portland. Of course, most people only notice Mount Hood as it towers over Larch but it is the highest peak in the West Gorge. In the summer you can drive almost all the way to the top of this extinct volcano but in the winter months it’s a long and exciting hike starting from Multnomah Falls. You’ll pass four more raging waterfalls and you’ll have a chance to look out on a few Cascade volcanoes from Sherrard Point. I waited almost a year before the trail reopened after the pandemic/wildfire damage and it was well worth the wait. The volunteers in forests across the entire PNW are heroes for getting trails like this reopened as quickly as possible!

Larch is the mountain below Hood. From WSU Vancouver

1st Trip: 3/13/21

Lovely Saturday morning a for long but quick hike. I was the first car in the huge Multnomah Falls parking lot but I knew it would be a totally different story by the time I returned.

Hard to beat starting a hike alongside the tallest waterfall in Oregon at 620ft! The path to the top of Multnomah Falls is mostly paved and has around ten switchbacks. Soon after the Benson Bridge I got showered with water by the second tier.

Cape Horn
Hamilton Mountain, Beacon Rock and Aldrich Butte

The next three and half miles of the Larch Mountain trail parallel Multnomah Creek and pass a few more lovely falls and the Dutchman Tunnel.

Wiesendanger Falls
Ecola Falls

As you start to hike away from Multnomah Creek, you’ll notice all the scorched under-story and blackened tree trunks from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. The last 1,000ft was snow covered and in an undamaged section of thick old growth forest. They lied about this mountain… all the trees are firs and hemlocks not larches.

There’s no actual view from the summit but a third of a mile away after a quick dip followed by more gain is Sherrard Point, a pinnacle with an exceptional panoramic view! You can look below at the Crater Meadow, down and up the Columbia River and all around to countless Cascadian peaks!

Silver Star Mountain and Bluff Mountain
Silver Star and Saint Helens
Saint Helens, Rainier and Adams
Saint Helens and Rainier
Mount Saint Helens (Loowit)
Archer Mountain below
Mount Rainier (Tahoma)
Mount Adams (Pahto)
Front to back: Hamilton Mountain. Table Mountain and Lemei Rock. Plus Adams
Mount Hood (Wyeast)
Olallie Butte and Mount Jefferson (Seekseekqua)

Grateful to catch this vantage point on a clear day! Eventually I had to stop drooling over the mountains as I still had seven miles to go and 4,000ft of elevation to lose. I had only seen one person and a friendly dog as I began my descent but that would soon change. I jogged almost the entire way down but once I reached the waterfalls it was slow going because of human traffic and snow bridges. I do a good job of avoiding crowds on most of my hikes but Multnomah Falls on a Saturday brings out the masses. I knew what I got myself into, so I just put my head down and thought about the glorious fish I’d be having for lunch!

Dutchman Falls

Go during the week to avoid the crowds but either way this is a great hike with a ton of variety! It took me less than five hours to complete but like I said it was all so I could go get the greatest fish n’ chips in all the land at Brigham Fish Market in Cascade Locks and bring it home to Ellie in time for lunch! Fun and efficient close to home trip!

Table Mountain from Brigham’s

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