MULTNOMAH FALLS, Ore. – March 19, 2018 – Visitors can once again view Multnomah Falls with no fence in the foreground, as the lower viewing platform re-opened today. The lower viewing platform, located at the base of the falls, has been closed to the public since Sept. 4, 2017, two days after the start of the Eagle Creek Fire.
The lodge, restaurant, gift shop, and snack bar reopened Nov. 29, 2017, but the platform remained closed due to the need to rebuild a rock catchment fence which was damaged during the fire by falling debris and trees.
The reconstruction of the fence was completed late last week, and the new fence will protect visitors on the platform from trees or rocks that may fall from the hillside.
The USDA Forest Service also hired contractors to fell hazard trees and conduct rock scaling, measures which will limit the amount of dangerous debris that can fall unexpectedly.
The trail to Benson Bridge, which spans the upper and lower falls, will remain closed until the next round of repairs is completed.
Work will include the replacement of Shady Creek Bridge, a wooden footbridge that burned during Eagle Creek Fire, and clearing and repair work on the lower portion of Larch Mountain Trail. An initial trail assessment found up to 90 percent of the trail covered by rocks. Crews have begun work to clear, repair, and stabilize the trail.
The projected timeline for reopening the trail up to Benson Bridge is summer, 2018. A timeline for the trail to the upper viewing platform remains undetermined.
The recreation site, managed by the Forest Service, is one of the most popular natural attractions in Oregon, receiving millions of visitors each year. Visitors still need to access the lodge through the Interstate 84 parking lot, operated by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). When parking is full, the gate to the I-84 parking lot will close. Travelers are asked to respect gate closures and use caution on the interstate.
A six-mile section of the Historic Columbia River Highway from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth State Park remains closed with no timeline for re-opening. Rocks and trees continue to fall on the road and ODOT will keep the road closed until it can safely re-open. Nearby Benson State Recreation Area will also remain closed to protect public safety.
The Forest Service continues to work in close collaboration with ODOT and Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation to mitigate hazards in the vicinity of the Eagle Creek Fire burned area in order to reopen roadways and recreation sites affected by the Eagle Creek Fire as soon as it is safe to do so.
Staff report, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
[VIDEO] Ryan Cole, an engineering geologist based at Mount Hood National Forest, discusses post-fire work at Multnomah Falls Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, to make it safe for visitors following rockfalls and other hazards created during the 2017 Eagle Creek fire.