Embrace the budding summer weather on this lushly forested route in the Columbia River Gorge. With moderate mileage and elevation gain, this is a perfect training hike for those looking to get back into the groove after their winter hibernation—and there are ample rewards. The route begins alongside stunning Horsetail Falls and climbs to three more spectacular cascades.

Behind Ponytail Falls ©Jenni Denekas

Embark upon the well-marked Horsetail Falls trail, to the left of the roadside Horsetail Falls viewing area. The initial 0.5 miles of steep switchbacks is the most challenging portion of the trail, but the reward is swift: you earn a beautiful view of Ponytail Falls and then pass behind the sweeping cascade, crossing a broad basalt shelf.

After this geologic interlude, continue uphill to a viewpoint, less than 0.2 miles away. This spot affords a broad view of the Columbia Gorge, looking east.

The trail’s grade will become more gradual after the overlook, ascending gently to a footbridge overlooking Oneonta Falls. Take a moment to enjoy this beautiful location before continuing your climb up the main trail.

Viewpoint ©Jenni Denekas

When the route forks 0.5 miles later, turn left. The trail will steepen slightly as it parallels the deep chasm of the Oneonta Gorge, a well-known slot canyon.

Continue to climb until you reach a bulging promontory, bare save for a small scattering of Oregon white oak and scrubby brush. Turn left off the main trail onto this large outcropping. In just a moment, as you pass around the boulders, you will be greeted with a stunning view of Triple Falls, a fitting conclusion to a many-splendored hike.

Oneonta Falls ©Jenni Denekas

Directions: -5 S 1. Head south on I-5 S 0.2 mi 2. Slight right onto US-30 E (signs for I-84 E/The Dalles) 0.5 mi 3. Continue onto I-84 E 24.9 mi 4. Take exit 28 toward Bridal Veil/Hist. Columbia/River Hwy 0.3 mi 5. Merge onto E Bridal Veil Rd 0.2 mi 6. Continue onto E Historic Columbia River Destination will be on the left 5.5 mi

Trail Stats:

Elevation Gain: 750 Feet
Distance one way: 2.5 Miles
Best Season: 3 Seasons
Features: Waterfalls, Canyon, Views
Trail Head Amenities: Potable Water, Picnic Tables
Passes / Permits: NW Forest Pass
Usage: Hikers, Dogs
Agency: US Forest Service

Triple Falls ©Jenni Denekas

Leave a Reply