The Larch Mountain Trail is one of the classic hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. Starting at Multnomah Falls, it follows Multnomah Creek and continues through an old-growth noble fir forest before it reaches a summit that provides an incredible view of the Cascade Mountains.
Some sections of the trail, including the early portion of the trail near Multnomah Falls and the viewpoint atop Larch Mountain, are fairly congested. Both of these places are quintessential Gorge hot spots that are easily accessible by car. However, along the majority of the trail, the crowds disappear. The lower section that leads up Multnomah Creek includes numerous waterfalls that are worth visiting. As the trail heads up Larch Mountain, the water gives way to a tranquil old-growth forest that is interspersed with rhododendrons that bloom in early summer. The name Larch Mountain is a misnomer, as there are no larch trees in the area. Instead, early lumbermen sold the noble fir that is prevalent on the mountain as larch.
Larch Mountain's summit elevation is 4,062 feet. This is one of the higher places in the Columbia River Gorge, and as such, the views of the Cascade Range volcanoes are impressive. Looking from south to north, there are unencumbered vistas of Mount Jefferson, Olallie Butte, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. The viewpoint, called Sherrard Point, is accessible by road from late spring to early fall.
Hiking from the Multnomah Falls parking lot to the top of Larch Mountain can be done by car shuttle or as a there-and-back trip. Although it's a long day hike, the incline is fairly gradual for the amount of elevation gain. We recommend starting at the bottom for a there-and-back trip for a few reasons: you can avoid the crowds that reach a peak at Multnomah Falls in later afternoon, and you can avoid the need for a Northwest Forest Pass or a $5 daily fee at the Larch Mountain parking lot at the summit.