We’ve all seen photos of lush green foliage with a rushing waterfall cascading down the center. Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge is subject of many of these photographs with incredible views, hiking, and an extra special emphasis on the waterfalls! MI OLA ambassador Becca is currently on an 8 month road trip with her husband traveling in a 38 year old Toyota Chinook. They take the time to explore diverse landscapes in every area they visit. Here Becca give us her insight into an epic day of chasing waterfalls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge!
Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area boasts 292,500 acres of beautiful landscapes, incredible hiking, and the infamous waterfalls. The Gorge is just a short drive out of Portland making it a perfect after-work jaunt or a weekend getaway. There are a plethora of waterfalls. I could go on and on about how many days you could spend here, however, I’ve shortened the list to my favorites that YOU CAN SEE IN ONE DAY.
Where to start/ How to get there:
From I-84, take exit 28 and follow the Historic Columbia River highway 3 miles to the Multnomah Falls parking area. You will want to arrive early as parking is limited and may be full by 9AM.
Begin your day early at Multnomah Falls to beat the crowd. This is one of the most photographed waterfalls. It’s a must see, but you don’t want to be jocking for space as you focus. Multnomah Falls, at 620 feet, is the 2nd tallest waterfall in the United States with over 2 million people visiting far and wide stopping to see her beauty.
After viewing Multnomah Falls, hike along trail #441 (Larch Mountain Trail) up the switchbacks to the brink of the falls. Follow the trail up the creek to Weisendanger Falls. You can either continue on to complete a loop trail to view more waterfalls or continue back to the Multnomah Falls parking area.
Upon returning to the Multnomah Falls Parking Area, drive 2.2 miles east along the Historic Columbia River highway to Oneonta Creek. Park here along the side of the road in one of the pullouts, grab your MI OLA bikini and get ready to cool off from your hike in Oneonta Gorge!
Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Falls:
From the parking area, head towards the obvious creek and start walking upstream. After a short ways, you will be met with a giant log jam. Carefully scramble over the logs. Pay close attention as they will most likely be wet. After scrambling over the log jam, continue walking upstream. You will shortly come to a narrow portion where you will be required to wade chest high in the creek. After wading through the water, you will be rewarded with Oneonta Falls!
Exploring Oneonta Gorge just after the log jam.
From the pullout next to Oneonta Creek, continue heading east along Historic Columbia River highway 0.5 miles to Horsetail Falls Trailhead.
Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls:
From the Horsetail Falls trailhead, walk along trail #438 viewing Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls. Walk behind Ponytail falls and continue walking along the short trail to a gorgeous lookout of the Columbia River Gorge. Retrace your steps to the Horsetail Falls Trailhead.
Overlooking the Columbia River Gorge from the lookout just past Ponytail Falls
Upon returning to your vehicle at Horsetail Falls Trailhead, drive back west along the Historic Columbia River HWY to I-84. You’ve completed some of our favorite hikes in this beautiful landscape!
A few things to keep in mind:
- These hikes are not considered strenuous, but be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.
- The Columbia River Gorge is a very popular destination for locals and travelers alike. Respect the land, pick up trash and be courteous to other hikers.
- The Columbia River Gorge can be accessed year round. Spring boasts the “most impressive” waterfalls with increased water volume. The waterfalls in Summer will offer relief for hot hikers. Autumn will reward hikers with beautiful leaves. Hikers in Winter can be awestruck with frozen waterfalls. Pick your season, it won’t disappoint!
LODGING & EATS
- The Columbia River Gorge does not have much to offer in the lodging department. It would be best to stay near or in Portland.
- The only food options in our waterfall guide are located at Multnomah Lodge. Reservations are recommended for a table at Multnomah Lodge. However, they do have a small snack bar with coffee. Packing a lunch with lots of hiking snacks is a great option to keep yourself going!
Happy Travels Mermaids!
Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?
Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?
Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com