Mark B. Gibson photo/file
Visitors walk to the lower viewing platform at Multnomah Falls in 2008. 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 view is now open, with no construction fence in the foreground.
As of Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Multnomah Falls’ lower viewing platform is open to the public for the first time since it was closed over six months ago due to the Eagle Creek fire, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported Monday.
Officials with the U.S National Forest Service, which manages the site, announced the reopening Monday in a written statement. The platform was deemed safe to reopen after reconstruction of a fence to protect visitors on the platform from any falling debris from the hillside was completed late last week.
Contractors have also been hired to conduct rock scaling and fell hazard trees to limit the amount of debris that can fall unexpectedly.
The recreation site is accessible from the I-84 parking lot, where access is limited to available parking spaces as ODOT will close the gate to the lot when parking is full.
“Travelers are asked to respect gate closures and use caution on the Interstate,” the Forest Service said.
The lower viewing platform at the base of the falls has been closed to the public since Sept. 4, two days after the Eagle Creek Fire began. That fire burned for over two months and consumed nearly 49,000 acres, or just over 76 square miles.
Though the 1925 lodge (which includes the restaurant, gift shop and snack bar) was protected by firefighters and reopened in late November, the trails and platforms remained closed due to damage.
The lower platform was deemed unsafe to reopen until a rock catchment fence that was damaged by falling debris during the fire was rebuilt.
The rest of the falls, including the trail up to the iconic 1914 Benson Bridge, are still closed.
The bridge and quarter-mile trail leading up to it will likely reopen in the summer of 2018 following the next round of repairs, the Forest Service said.
These repairs include the replacement of Shady Creek Bridge and clearing and repair work on the lower portion of Larch Mountain Trail.
An initial assessment of that trail found it to be up to 90 percent covered with rocks. Crews have already begun work clearing the trail.
The timeline for reopening the remainder of the Multnomah Falls recreation areas, including the still-intact upper platform, is undetermined.
There is no timeline for reopening the six-mile section of the Historic Columbia River Highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park and the nearby Benson State Recreation Area.
“The U.S. 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,” the Forest Service said.
For updated information on areas affected by the Eagle Creek Fire and information on which sites are open and which are closed, visit gorgefriends.org/home/ready-set-gorge.html or www.fs.usda.gov/detail/crgnsa.