Hidden Lodge in the Columbia Gorge
Millions of tourists visit the historic lodge at the base of Multnomah Falls, but who knew there was a lodge hidden at the top?
With massive stone walls and giant log rafters, Nesika Lodge perches on a cliff 1,800 feet above the Columbia River. You’re unlikely to find this hideaway by accident, because it’s accessible only by a relatively difficult, unmarked trail. The Trails Club of Oregon, the group that owns the lodge, is inviting guests to come take a look on Saturday, May 21.
May is a glorious month to hike in the Columbia River Gorge, with waterfalls roaring and wildflowers at their peak.
The hike to Nesika Lodge begins by following the paved one-mile path to the top of Multnomah Falls. Then you continue upstream another 1.8 miles on the Larch Mountain Trail, ducking through a rock overhang known as Dutchman’s Tunnel and passing two more waterfalls. The lodge is yet another 1.2 miles beyond, on an easily overlooked side path to the northeast.
Twenty-three Portland businessmen convened on the summit of Larch Mountain on October 3, 1915 to form the Trails Club of Oregon. They raised $1000 to build the Larch Mountain Trail. In 1923 they built the first Nesika Lodge, a large rectangular log house. Nesika means “ours” in Chinook jargon, the old trade language of Northwest tribes.
By the early 1980s all of the other private land in the area had been acquired by the Forest Service. Nesika Lodge was so rotten that rats had built nests under the floor. The Trails Club decided to sell 80 of their 120 acres to the Forest Service and use the money to build anew. Near the spectacular new lodge, dormitories have enough bunks to sleep 60 guests.
Today the Trails Club has only 400 members, and most of them are elderly. To win new recruits, the club is inviting people to join them for a “membership day” hike to Nesika Lodge on Saturday, May 21. If you’re interested, register in advance with Jeff Andrew at 503-804-9027 or email@example.com.