Day Hike In the Columbia Gorge

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I consider myself very lucky that I have a son who loves the outdoors as much as I do. And like me, his favorite place is the Columbia River Gorge with its abundance of waterfalls. So we decide to hike around Oneonta Gorge one Friday because there’s a couple falls neither of us have seen yet.

The drive into the Gorge is a beautiful thing. The blue Columbia River intersects Washington/Oregon – the landscape’s green and wild, with tall basalt cliffs on either side.

The trail starts at Horsetail Falls and winds up on a series of switchbacks and before we know it, we’re high above the Gorge. Our first stop is Ponytail Falls, which plunges 80 feet into a pool below. The trail allows you to walk behind the falls where there’s a cool cave.

From here it’s up to a viewpoint on the cliff where we can see the entire Gorge spread out before us. Quite impressive and well worth the hike. We decide to continue on to Middle Oneonta Falls. The trail leads us deep into the woods, along a ravine, across a bridge to the 60 foot falls. I look around and think how lucky I am to live so close to such a wonderful place.

Further on we catch the Larch Mt trail. The creek that cuts through this canyon has a lot of interesting patterns and as we continue to climb to the top of the ridge I enjoy the sounds of the whitewater washing over the rocks below. In the distance I can hear Upper Oneonta Falls but it lies hidden from view on this trail.

After much sweating and a few stops to catch my breath, we reach Triple Falls. It’s a magical place and perfect for a picnic lunch. We sit by the creek on a log above the 85 foot falls. Before us: the rocky creek; another smaller waterfall meandering down the hill; a green canopy of Douglas Fir, Hemlock and Spruce; fern and moss; blue sky; fresh air; and the sounds of birds. What better way to spend a day?

On the return trip to the Oneonta Loop trail we find an unmarked path that takes us far down into the canyon (sliding on our backside at places) to the little-known and rarely seen Upper Oneonta Falls. Totally secluded and wild and so fun to explore (being sure not to damage the natural surroundings) this falls offers another chance to walk behind the water spout to cool off. Little frogs hop all around us. A refreshing pool sparkles in the sun.

As we climb up the the hill and hike out and return to our car we discuss how great it is to spend a day like this out in nature. We decide to make a quick stop at Multnomah Falls to buy a map of the hiking trails in the Gorge and agree to hike a new trail every week. For me, it’s a way to reconnect to the roots of my soul. It’s where I’m most happy.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mark DeFazio
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 16:36:00

    Brings back sweet memories.

    Reply

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