Oneonta Falls, Oneonta Gorge Trailhead, Portland - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Oneonta Falls - .6 miles
Oneonta Gorge Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||.6 miles (distance may vary slightly within the gorge)|
|Start-End Elevation:||42' - 250' (elevation in creek below falls)|
|Elevation Change:||208' net elevation gain|
Oneonta Falls - .6 Miles Round-Trip
Oneonta Falls is located .3 miles from the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oneonta Gorge. This iconic waterfall drops over 100' through a narrow, high-walled slot near the mouth of Oneonta Creek. While only a short walk upstream the falls can be difficult (if not impossible) to reach, especially in high water.
The logjam - portions of which give the appearance of stability but in fact 'float' on the creek and are inherently unstable - can be difficult to pass even when dry. It can be dangerous when slickened by rain and high, swift water. It's possible to slip through the logs with no escape route. Use extreme caution.
The logjam also pools water upstream knee - head high in places, depending on season. Plan to wade or swim beyond the jam to reach the falls, which hits a ledge and sprays out just before entering the creek.
Stairs lead down from the trailhead on Oneonta Bridge to the creek bed, where an established path leads up the right (west) side to the base of the logjam.
The gorge famously narrows beyond the stack, but it's difficult to fully appreciate from this obstructed point. Pick the best route up and across the logs, where you'll have a good look into the gorge and better gauge on further travel.
This deep, narrow, perennially damp slot is sheltered from direct sun and wind, creating an ideal habitat for a wide range of endemic gorge plants. Look for Oregon bolandra and Columbia lewisia among other rare native plants.
Oneonta Falls can be a very busy destination on summer weekends. Get an early start or come on a weekday for smaller crowds.
Is it Oneonta Falls or Lower Oneonta Falls?
There's some confusion about the name of this waterfall - Oneonta Falls or Lower Oneonta Falls. These names are used interchangeably to describe the same fall; lower is sometimes added for distinction from the upstream waterfall under the bridge along the Horsetail Falls Trail - which is interchangeably known as Oneonta Falls or Middle Oneonta Falls. Oneonta Falls aligns best with the likely intent of the originator, and is the name we use here.
The Oneonta Tunnel
The Oneonta Bluff posed an engineering challenge to road builders planning a 125' long, 20' wide bore hole through the base. Its basalt composition has many cleavages susceptible to cracking, and it was possible the tunnel could collapse. Samuel Lancaster solved the problem by injecting concrete into crevasses and stabilizing the rock.
The Oneonta Tunnel was opened in 1914 but bypassed with a new route in 1948. It was subsequently filled with rubble and closed, but re-opened in 2009 as a walking path.
- N45 35.371 W122 04.533 — Oneonta Gorge Trailhead
- The logjam can be difficult to scale, even during dry periods. It can be dangerous when slickened by rain and high, swift water. It's difficult for medical assistance to reach beyond the logjam. Use caution. Oneonta Gorge may not be suitable for children and pets.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There is no camping on the Oneonta Gorge Trail
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
- No fee or recreation pass is required to access the Oneonta Gorge Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
Directions to Oneonta Gorge Trailhead
From I-84, take Exit #35 / Ainsworth. Turn west on the Columbia River Historic Highway for approximately 1.7 miles. There's a small pull-off parking lot just west of the Oneonta Tunnel on the left (south) side of the road. The trail begins from the bridge over Oneonta Creek: follow stairs down to the creek and walk up the gorge.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
902 Wasco Ave | Suite 200
Hood River, OR 97031
Hood River Ranger District
6780 Highway 35
Parkdale, OR 97041
Mt. Hood National Forest | Headquarters
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055
Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30a – 4:30p (closed 11:30 – 12:30)