- Rating: Moderate
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: 1.2 miles round-trip
Most day-trippers to Oneonta Creek will merely hike above it, en route to the viewpoint atop Triple Falls. That trail makes a perfectly acceptable waterfall hike, but to truly appreciate Oneonta’s dramatic allure, you’ll want to don your bathing suit. That’s because the “trail” in this case is the creek itself, and walking along its banks—and occasionally into its gurgling waters—is the only way to reach Lower Oneonta Falls, a plunge about a half-mile upstream from the Columbia River Highway.
ROUTE: Scout the route from Oneonta Bridge, where you’ll see bright yellow lichens smeared over the rock face and also the cavelike entrance to a narrow box canyon. You’ll first need to surmount the log jam at the creek’s start, and though plenty of hikers do just that, heed the Forest Service signs warning that logs may shift. Having proceeded carefully over them, you’ll be walking in another world, in the shadows of high, sheer walls dripping with moss and ferns. (Warning: Should there be other hikers about, you’re likely to hear them comparing the scenery to the landscape of the elf kingdom in Lord of the Rings.) Just a half-mile ahead, in a vermillion cul-de-sac, Oneonta Falls plunges into a pool that makes for exceptional, if chilly, wading. High water levels make this hike a no-go in spring, but on a sweaty August day, there is no better place in the Gorge to be. Map: Green Trails Bridal Veil No. 428.
DIRECTIONS: From eastbound I-84, take Exit 28 and make a left on the Historic Columbia River Highway. About 1.5 miles past Multnomah Falls, park in the pullout to the right of the bridge over Oneonta Creek.