We’ve all seen the photos of luscious green foliage with a rushing waterfall cascading down the center. Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge is home to many of these photographs and as we started exploring The Gorge, we became quickly awestruck. We were immediately transplanted into a fairyland of green, green, oh… and more green.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area boasts 292,500 acres of beautiful landscapes, incredible hiking, and of course the infamous waterfalls. The Gorge is just a short drive out of Portland making it a perfect after work paradise or a weekend getaway. There are a plethora of waterfalls and we could go on and on about how many days you could spend here. However, we’ve shortened the list to our favorites that YOU CAN SEE IN ONE DAY.
TO BEGIN YOUR WATERFALL JOURNEY: From I-84, take exit 28 and follow the Historic Columbia River HWY 3 miles to the Multnomah Falls parking area. You will want to arrive early as parking is limited and may be full by 9am.
MULTNOMAH FALLS: Begin your day early at Multnomah Falls. One of the most photographed waterfalls, this beauty is something you want to experience but don’t want to be elbowing for tripod space as you focus in on that long exposure shot. 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.
WEISENDANGER FALLS: After viewing Multnomah Falls, continue 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 HWY to Oneonta Creek. Park here along the side of the road in one of the pullouts, grab your swimsuit and be prepared 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 logjam. Carefully scramble over the logs paying 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!
From the pullout next to Oneonta Creek, continue heading east along Historic Columbia River HWY 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.
Upon returning to your vehicle at Horsetail Falls Trailhead, head 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. Read more from this article.
- Aside from Multnomah Lodge, there isn’t anywhere to get food or water. Plan accordingly.
- 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 bikini you see me sporting is an amazing suit by MI OLA. MI OLA creates swimwear for active females that will stay put whether you’re cliff jumping, surfing, playing under waterfalls or whatever else you do to have fun! As a proud ambassador, I’ve long since given up any other swimmie unless it’s MI OLA. You can buy yours at http://mi-ola.com/.
This blog post is by no means meant to be a complete guide. Please do your own additional research. We consider all of these hikes to be “easy” but do consider your own physical ability.