In a deep, forested canyon that gets seemingly better with every step, Fairy Falls makes for a perfect rest stop on your ascent. However, the delicate beauty of this 20-foot cascade regularly renders visitors breathless.
Fairy Falls is a modest cascade in a gorge full of some of the most impressive waterfalls many people have ever seen. Located just above the wildly popular Wahkeena Falls, this roughly 20-foot cascade provides a lesson in humble and discrete beauty. It is something that most tourists and visitors to this area simply don't get to experience.
What Makes It Great
By leaving most of the crowds behind at Wahkeena Falls and continuing up to Fairy Falls, hikers and families can witness a much more subtle kind of natural atmosphere. The trail from the Wahkeena Trailhead to Fairy Falls is about a 2-mile hike of mostly uphill climbing. While we'd like to say you will catch your breath once you've reached your final destination, the delicate beauty of Fairy Falls might just do the opposite and render you breathless.
The location of this hike makes it great for people wanting to see a variety of waterfalls in one place. The ever-popular Multnomah Falls is about a half mile up the road from where you will park for this hike, which is easy to get to from a small trail to the left at Wahkeena Falls. Wahkeena Falls is a little less popular than Multnomah, though hikers should anticipate a full parking lot on the weekend. The trail for Fairy Falls is to the right of Wahkeena. At first, you will climb to a stone bridge near the base of Wahkeena Falls. Beware of ice here in the winter because of the spray from the falls. The trail is fairly steep here through a series of switchbacks and is about 600 feet in elevation fain in just a half mile. There is a viewpoint to the right at the end of the switchbacks and the trail continues left. Going up a few more switchbacks takes you up to through Wahkeena Canyon to Fairy Falls, which is a waterfall down an uneven rock that causes the water to fan out.
You'll know you're at the right spot once you see a bench and a small footbridge just in front of the falls. If you've gone for a solitude-seeking hike, it doesn't get much more peaceful than sitting at this bench with a book, listening to the water and feeling the cool, forest air. Be sure to snap a few photos before hiking back down to your vehicle in the bustling Wahkeena Falls parking lot.
Who is Going to Love It
This hike has an elevation gain of 800 feet in 2 miles, which makes it moderately difficult, though that is moderated by the switchbacks that you will hike on for most of the way. This is a possible hike for most, with several places to stop and catch your breath. For experienced hikers, this hike is great for a short day to get some waterfall views in.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get there from Portland, take I-84 east to exit 28 for Bridal Veil and continue east on the Historic Highway for 2.4 miles to the Wahkeena Trailhead.