April 29, 2021
Don Hamilton, ODOT, 503-704-7452
Karen Davis, U.S. Forest Service, 503-522-8377
Chris Havel, Oregon Parks and Recreation, 503-931-2590
Six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway and neighboring trails and waterfalls closed by slides since January re-opened Thursday, ODOT, Oregon Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service announced.
Frequent landslides forced the extended closure of the road between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth, known as the Waterfall Corridor including popular sites such as Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls, although Multnomah Falls has been open with access from the Exit 31 Interstate 84 parking lot.
On several occasions since last year the slides forced closure of sections of the Historic Highway, trails, and waterfalls. Over the winter, one location about a mile west of Multnomah Falls saw more than 30 debris flows, a type of fast-moving landslide. These flows repeatedly deposited large rocks, trees, mud and other materials on the Historic Highway and the adjacent railroad tracks.
Crews have completed temporary slope repairs at this location and we expect additional work will continue throughout the summer months.
Evaluation by ODOT’s geotechnical engineers and geologists determined that the debris flows were groundwater driven and they foresee a decreasing risk of additional landslides as we enter the drier months.
Along the corridor, crews removed landslide debris, repaved and put in temporary barriers to replace the damaged white wooden railing.
Above: A January 2021 debris flow one mile west of Multnomah Falls.
The lower portion of the Oneonta Trail is open to the Horsetail Falls Trail junction. The Oneonta Trail remains closed south of the Horsetail Falls junction. The Gorge 400 trail is now open between Multnomah Falls and the Oneonta Trail.
With the Historic Highway again open, travelers should still exercise caution and observe all warning signs. The Gorge is prone to landslides and rockfall even in favorable conditions. New closures to protect public safety could happen with little notice.
In addition, visitors must observe parking restrictions and park only in properly designated areas. If an area appears full, leave and either visit another area, or return later. Early mornings and weekdays are the best times to avoid congestion.