Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

March 24, 2017  •  1 Comment

This hike in the Oneonta Gorge was definitely one of a kind. It was not your usual dirt or rock path... it was a creekbed. In the info we found before we made our trip to Oregon we were warned that you would get significantly wet on this hike. They were not lying in the least! By the end we were soaked up to our armpits... and this was not warm tropical water! This was ice cold, limb numbing, scream inducing cold!! But it was so worth it and another spot we would highly recommend for the experience and views! 


In this map(below) the actual marked Oneonta Gorge Hike(not the creekbed) is in purple. We didn't have time to do this part of the hike but it looks like it would be a beautiful experience as well. We ended up hiking up the actual Oneonta Gorge. At some times of the year there is so much water running through that you would not be able to hike up the actual creek bed/gorge(which you will notice on the map at the intersection to Triple Falls and Ponytail Falls). Oneonta Creek has cut down through a series of Columbia River Basalt lava layers by following a fault line carving out the beautiful gorge you will see in the following pictures. You enter the Gorge with a set of stairs located on the side of the Historic Columbia River Hwy. It is not well marked but if you know where to look it is its not too difficult to find. 


** as a side will also notice on the map Interstate 84... it is insane! The speeds people travel on it is absolutely nuts... but after a day we got used to it and were able to keep up with the traffic! It heads into Portland and is a busy stretch of Highway. The Historic Columbia River Highway is also busy but much slower because most people traveling it are there to go hiking or sightseeing.


We woke up that morning in Wyatt Campground just off of Interstate 84 and were super excited to get started on our hike down the Gorge! We started off with a perfect road trip breakfast... PB and Honey sandwiches and sliced apples! We listened to a train traveling through the Columbia Gorge.. it seemed like it was the 100th one we had heard in our few days in this area. The trains in the area can seem very loud since the walls of the Columbia Gorge cause the the sound of the trains to be amplified... and it took a few nights to get used to it. No word of a lie the trains seem to run every 30mins!! lol  With breakfast being finished we packed up Pearl(van) and headed out for the trailhead.



Oneonta Map

Of course we were up at the crack of dawn being still on Manitoba time, which meant we were the first ones on the trail.  We headed down the stairs and it opened up into the creek bed and at this point it was quite shallow and wide! Not even close to the things we had read about getting soaking wet and we both commented that maybe the literature was referring to a different time of year. Lol Little did we know we were wrong! There was much deeper water ahead!

Near the beginning of the Oneonta Gorge there is a pretty impressive logjam... the pictures really don't do it justice. It was a little treacherous with all the logs being quite damp and slippery. It looked like a perfect ankle and leg breaking spot.. Thankfully no injuries were incurred by either of us! On the other side of the logjam it opened up into a beautiful narrow canyon... with moss and ferns covering the walls. The whole Columbia Gorge area is amazingly lush and green... and is truly breathtaking! The Oneonta Gorge is just one small section of this amazing area.

It was around this area that we came across a deeper section of water. It was still only knee deep but boy was it chilly...we couldn't feel anything from about the knees down. Again comments were tossed back and forth between us that if this was the worst of it then it really was not that bad. Keeping our fingers crossed that it would be shallow the whole way and we continued on. Still being the only ones in the gorge it was wonderfully peaceful and beautiful. The day had started off cloudy with a bit of rain but while we hiked up the gorge we started to notice it was clearing off and the rain had stopped. The hike itself is not overly long and if you didn't stop at all it would probably be less then an hour start to finish but we took our time to just take in the beauty of it and snap tons of pictures. We came across a very slow moving snake which was most likely due to the fact that it was still quite chilly down at the bottom of the gorge. 

At this point in the hike we figured we were getting close to the end of the gorge since we could quite clearly hear the falls. We were getting excited! We notice some deeper water(you will see it in the pictures below) and at first it didn't look too bad! Boy were we wrong and would soon discover that... as we waded in we realized that it just kept getting deeper and deeper! At about waist deep and not able to feel anything below our waists we decided to turn back and re evaluate the situation. Our biggest concern was of course of the camera equipment! **water and cameras do not mix well but more about that in the blog of the Oregon coast lol ** So we decided that our best plan of action was to carry our camera backpacks above our heads on the chance that the water kept getting deeper. So we jumped in for a 2nd go and discovered very quickly that the water was indeed very deep and our decision to carry the cameras was a very good idea! At the deepest spot the water was almost to my neck and Todds armpits! It was breathtakingly cold and we literally could not feel anything from our armpits down. Had it been much deeper I(Danielle) would have been swimming... as it was because the bottom is all smooth rocks it makes it a bit hard to get good traction and we both thought for sure one of us was going to loose our footing! But thankfully we made it through being just a bit more wet and cold then before. There are no pictures of us up to our necks so you will just have to take our word for it! or just go hike it yourself and you can experience it yourself.

We were both a tad cold at this point but soon forgot all about that when we first laid eyes on the falls! So beautiful and awe inspiring! Its really hard to put into words the thoughts one has when standing in a place like this... the moss and ferns with a beautiful little waterfall makes it feel magical! It makes you feel like an explorer that has just discovered a hidden place no one has ever seen before.. well one can dream anyways! lol

We spent quite a bit of time taking pictures and just enjoying the scenery. There were lots of little rock towers that had been created by the many people that have hiked the gorge. It added a really cool feeling to the place and we made one ourselves. Eventually we decided we had to head back... 

And so we plunged back into the neck deep water and headed back for the trailhead and Pearl. Looking forward to getting out of our wet clothes and warming up! On the return hike we came across this cute little guy just hanging out on the gorge walls. He looked pretty happy in the way that salamanders look happy! lol Or at least we imagined him to be happy and having a nap. These are the sort of thoughts one has on road trips when you are out of civilization for only a few days! That and talking to trees!

Here we are at the end of the hike both looking super happy and a little wet. And one last glimpse of the falls. We hope you enjoyed traveling through the Oneonta Gorge with us and it inspires you to check it out yourself. We loved every minute of this hike and highly recommend this hike to any brave souls ready for a little adventure and not afraid of a bit of cold water! Happy Adventuring!


Wanda Cline(non-registered)
As crazy as I thought you two were to go into that cold water with your cameras above your heads, slipping and sliding on the rocks below, I am so thankful you did! The pictures, I am sure, do not do the natural beauty justice but I must admit you two have done a wonderful job making it so. I love the greenery. With the wet rain and water on the vegetation it makes for a spectacular color!

Thank you for your bravery and love of nature. You two impress me daily.

Love Mom
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