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Falling for Portland

March 19, 2013

I spent a spectacular 3-day weekend visiting friends in Portland, Oregon with the boyfriend.  Neither of us had ever been to Portland or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest and only had a vague idea of what to expect (rain, hipsters and hippies?). We left enamoured with this area and anxious to return.

Our host (with the most) for the weekend picked us up at the airport late Thursday night and took us back to his apartment in the Alphabet District of Northwest Portland to crash.  It was a late night so we didn’t go out, but the darkened view of the city on our ride from the airport was enough to get us super excited to explore the next day.

Portland View

We awoke pretty early Friday to a nice Portland morning – cool but not cold and pretty clear – and jumped in the car to rendezvous with a couple of other friends living in the city.

The views from our friend's balcony were beautiful, and apparently on a rare clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Saint Helens.

The views from our friend’s balcony were beautiful, and apparently on a really clear day you can see all the way to Mount St. Helens.

On our way out I noticed that Spring is already, well, springing in Portland.  Like most parts of the country, they are way ahead of us and I was tickled to see my first dafodils of the year.

Portland Spring

We headed straight to Pine State Biscuits, a breakfast spot we were dying to try due to some Yelp research and the fact that it was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Pine State

It’s a tiny spot where you wait in line to order at the counter and then hope to find a seat.  We got really lucky and snagged a table for 4 to enjoy our breakfasts.

Pine State Menu Board

Pine State is famous for amazing biscuits, which happen to be one of my favorite foods in the world.  On those biscuits you can get anything from a classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich to ridiculous fried chicken concoctions.  I decided to go somewhere between traditional and crazy and ordered a fried chicken, egg and cheese.  Holy fat kid special.  It was delicious.

Fried Chicken, Egg and Cheese

Everyone in our group raved about their breakfasts, which included a veggie option with collard greens, a steak and egg sandwich, and a bacon, egg and cheese. If I ever make it back to Pine State I might try something a little more adventurous – check out their menu and prepare to drool.

Pine State is by no means a healthy breakfast spot, so I was glad that we already had active plans lined up for after brunch – hiking Multnomah Falls.  (Does the “Falling for Portland” pun make sense now? Is it too late?)  Multnomah is the most famous of the many waterfalls located right outside Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.  It is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and by far the largest falls I’ve ever visited.

Multnomah Falls

It took us about 40 minutes to get from the city to the falls, and on our way to Multnomah we could see Wahkeena Falls from the road, so we decided to pull over and check it out.

Wahkeena Falls

It only took us a few minutes to hike to the viewing area of the waterfall and check it out.  I use the term “hike” loosely because the path was short and mostly paved, but it was pretty slippery from the mist so shoes with a good tread were crucial.

Wahkeena Falls Hike

One of the things that struck me most was just how green everything was.  The moist climate around Portland keeps all of the vegetation so vibrant.  Coming from the arid Colorado climate where winter is white and brown, I was a bit awestruck by the bright green moss covering everything.

Moss

Mossy Hike

At the top, we stopped to take in the falls and snap some photos.

Wahkeena

Wahkeena

Woo hoo

It was gorgeous, but I had no idea what was in store for us at Multnomah.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls has a visitors center at the base complete with restrooms, a gift shop, restaurant and even an espresso stand (how Portland is that?).  As far as a beautiful scenic area with hiking options, it’s about as accessible as it gets.  It was definitely more crowded than a typical hiking trail, but I really didn’t think the crowds were that bad and they didn’t take away from my experience.

Multnomah Falls Visitors

Like Wahkeena, there is an asphalt trail winding up toward the falls.  The first stop on the trail is a foot bridge where visitors can snag a great view of the falls.  I wasn’t paying that much attention to our timing, but I’d say it took us less than 5 minutes to walk up to the bridge.  It seemed very sturdy but I still got a little woozy looking over the side.

Wahkeena Foot Bridge

I was amazed at how powerful this waterfall was.  The roar of the water and the spray that drenched us even at a distance showcased just how much force the falls carried over that sheer cliff.  Wow.

Multnomah Splash

Most people seemed to stop at the bridge, or you could hike about a mile to the top of the falls or beyond to connect with other trails. We really wanted to hike to the top but we were running short on time, so we went about halfway up before grudgingly turning around.

Multnomah Falls Trail

I was extra careful on the way down the slippery trail.  Along the way, we caught glimpses of the Columbia River opposite the waterfall.

Columbia River

The Forest Service takes great care of these areas, even putting up this intense fencing to keep out velociraptors falling rocks.

Jurassic Fences

There are few things I enjoy more than hiking through a place of spectacular beauty with friends, and I loved every second of it.

Multnomah Falls

Back in the city, I grabbed my first of many lattes that weekend at The Clearing Cafe.  I chose a Honey Cardamom Latte (another great Yelp tip) that was subtly sweet and spicy.

Clearing Cafe

Honey Cardamom Latte

Then it was time to pack up the car and head two hours south to Eugene, Oregon for a concert and some more good eats – stay tuned for a recap tomorrow!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. donna permalink
    March 20, 2013 9:37 am

    Beautiful photos…makes me want to visit! You should work for the Portland Visitor’s Bureau.

  2. March 20, 2013 3:02 pm

    I’ve heard really good things about Portland and those waterfalls look stunning, one for my ever-expanding US travel list for sure!

    • March 21, 2013 3:00 pm

      Definitely keep it on the list! Nice people, amazing food, beautiful scenery… I’ve also heard that the Oregon coast is absolutely amazing and was disappointed to miss it. If you’re heading that way I’d definitely block out another couple days to spend on the coast!

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