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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Three To Six Waterfalls

Spring has arrived in Portland and I have been celebrating by spending as much time as possible outside. Last weekend, Gus and I took advantage of the sunshine to head out into the Gorge and hike up the Oneonta Trail. It's a relatively quick hike (it took us about 2.5 hours) and not terribly difficult- we are still working on getting back into hiking shape. But in this case, little effort has some big payoffs. This trail meanders past three waterfalls, overlooks fantastic views of the Columbia River, and is relatively uncrowded (compared to Angel Falls, and of course, Multnomah Falls trails). 

The trail starts at Horsetail Falls, right off the old Columbia Highway. There is a clearly marked trail where we began to climb up towards the next falls. Along the way, there are some breaks in the trees where we were able to look out over the Columbia River.

The trail evens out and it is a pretty casual walk to Ponytail Falls. From the trail, we descended into an amphitheater-like area where the trail curves down and behind the falls. The trail juts into a break in the rock wall, creating a passage, and there is plenty of space to sit for a backstage view of the falls.  

Sitting behind the falls was such a unique, fun part of the trail. I was stupidly giddy and excited about being out hiking once we hit this feature. Also, if it weren't for the crowd of college students and families collected at the passage behind the falls, it would have almost been like a setting in a Harlequin Romance.

Past Ponytail Falls, we crossed a rather-high-up bridge. Not to completely put-off any acrophobes out there, but apparently there has been some damage to the bridge, and it is only safe for one person to cross at a time. 

To get to Triple Falls, turn left onto the Oneonta Trail past the bridge. Here lays the final climb, through rocky switchbacks (Which requires some caution if you wear barefoot shoes like we do. I still have a terrible purple bruise on the bottom of my foot from stomping on a sharp rock).

Triple Falls is as the name suggests- a triple waterfall (does this mean that this hike features three waterfalls or six?). There is a viewpoint off the trail where a couple was picnicking. Beyond the falls, there is a trail that leads back to a bridge over the creek and a heavily wooded area beyond it. It appears that there are places for camping or just general playing around in this area.

To return, we doubled back on the Oneonta Trail and followed that trail back down to the Columbia Highway where we were parked. 

This was a great low-moderate intensity hike with incredible scenery. It was a great find for randomly picking out of our Northwest Hiking Guide. I really am in love with the Columbia Gorge and am so excited to make it my playground (and gym!) this summer and fall. Besides $3 late-run movies and ubiquitous vegan food, this may be the best part of living in Portland. 

Directions: Coming from Portland, take I-84 East to exit 35. Head west on the Columbia Highway, and turn off at the signs for the Horsetail Falls Trailhead.

Check out some of my other trail guides here and here!

1 comment :

  1. These are the really beautiful images of Horsetail Falls where I visited before boston to washington dc tours. Horsetail Falls is on the same road right before Multomah Falls. Park your car and get up close to Horsetail Falls, admire, snap a pic and go on your cheerful way. It's another great sight to see on the list of waterfalls in the area. If you'd like, you can also take a short hike down to get a closer look. I did not get a chance to do so but I'm sure it would have been worth my time.