The Columbia River Gorge has the highest collection of high waterfalls in North America, and you can see a couple of the coolest on this nice, short hike. Begin your hike from the Horsetail Falls trailhead and catch an eyeful of one of the prettiest waterfalls in the gorge without having to even step foot on the trail. Horsetail falls plunges 176 feet over a mossy cliff, twisting as it falls, resembling its namesake. The trail begins just to the left of the waterfall as it begins to switchback up the cliff.
After about a third of a mile from the trailhead, the trail will reach the top of Horsetail Falls and then turn and head up the gorge containing Horsetail Creek. Just a short distance up the valley and you will find yourself at beautiful, Ponytail Falls. This small version of Horsetail Falls shoots out of a narrow slot in the cliff face and plunges 88 feet to a plunge pool below. But the coolest aspect of Ponytail Falls is that the trail heads behind it, passing beneath an overhang where some softer rock has eroded away over time. Standing behind a waterfall is always a magical experience..
If you would like to continue, the trail continues on past Ponytail Falls as it makes its way to Oneonta Gorge. From there you can make a loop of it and head up to Triple Falls. If this was all the waterfalls your little heart desired, turn around and head back down the way you came.
To reach the Horsetail Falls Trailhead, head Take exit 35 on I-84 onto the Historic Columbia River Highway, 18 miles east of Troutdale or 8 miles west of Cascade Locks. Follow the historic highway for 1.6 miles and the trailhead will be on your right, right across from Horsetail Falls.
Passes: Between late May and Septmeber, permits will be required for all vehicles accessing this area. A permit allows vehicle access to the Historic Columbia River highway between the Bridal Veil and Ainswroth Exits. Permits can be purchased on recreation.gov up to two weeks in advance and are $2. Another option is to take a shuttle bus into the area, as permits are only required for vehicles.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Open and accessible all year. Winters can be very wet and don't be surpries to find some snow or ice along the trail.
Flowers: Flowers can be found along some sections of the trail during the spring months.