Oneonta Gorge is one of the coolest places in Oregon, where Oneonta Creek makes its way through a deep, narrow, moss covered canyon with a waterfall at the end. While that gorge is still closed due to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, you can still hike the creek above it and visit one of the more unique waterfalls you will see, Triple Falls.
Begin your hike form the Oneonta Trailhead near the entrance to the gorge. The trail heads off to the west on the far side of the road and slowly begins its climb. After a short distance, you will reach the intersection with the Gorge Trail as it heads towards Multnomah Falls. Make a hard left and continue uphill along the Oneonta Trail. Prepare to march up 300 feet in less than half a mile as you pass beneath some beautiful cliff faces. In the spring, flowers can line the trail here.
About a half mile from the trailhead, the trail will begin a slow swing towards the left and begin its ascent of Oneonta Creek. You will find yourself perched along the top of the steep gorge, which is so steep and narrow, you can’t see the bottom. A quarter mile further and you will find yourself at the intersection with the Horsetail Falls Trail. If you don’t mind a little extra mileage, this is a sweet way to head back to make a loop out of the hike while seeing a few more waterfalls.
Continue straight ahead as you approach the boundary of the Mark. O. Hatfield Wilderness Area. This section of trail was really hit hard by the Eagle Creek fire, and little vegetation is left. The trail can also be extremely rocky in places, and the drop offs down towards the creek are steep, so if you don’t like heights, you may get a little nervous here. Along the trail, as you keep your eyes on the creek, watch for the top of Upper Oneonta Falls as you can see the creek drop even deeper into the gorge. From the intersection, its 0.7 miles and a 300 foot climb to the lookout over Triple Falls.
Triple Falls is an amazing and unique waterfall that will make all the work worth it. Here, the creek divides itself into three different segments and drops 64 feet into the creek below. There is a perfect place, complete with a little bench/log to sit on, to view the falls and rest, located just below the trail. The viewpoint is straight at the falls and totally unobstructed, so you can enjoy it to the fullest.
To reach the Oneonta 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 2.1 miles and the trailhead will be on your right, just past Oneonta Gorge. This is a pretty small trailhead and parking is limited, so time your trip wisely.
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.