Oneonta Falls (sometimes called Lower Oneonta Falls), is a short .6 mile hike that requires overcoming a few obstacles to reach it. It’s not far from Portland either. Just head east on Interstate-84/U.S. 30 then take exit 28 toward Bridal Veil/Hist. Columbia River Highway. Continue east for about 5 miles and you’re there! My husband made this hike about 20 years ago so we knew it would be best to go on a hot day….YOU WILL GET WET. We took two 8 year olds and a 6 year old with us who were ready for an adventure.
Parking is convenient and less than ¼ mile away from the trailhead or rather the marker I should say. Oneonta Falls isn’t a trail at all, the river is the trail! But not to worry, stay calm and carry on as hundreds do every summer and survive. Before you know it, you arrive upon a HUGE log jam or “Beaver Dam” as we called it. This takes some strategic maneuvering and careful steps are necessary when it is wet. You will be climbing on all fours and younger ones may need assistance.
After conquering the “Beaver Dam”, continue to follow the river bed and enjoy the beautiful gorge you have just entered into. Our kids loved searching for rocks and the scattered sunlight highlights the high rock walls on either side of you. We were all happy that it was 80 degrees out because the water is COLD! A bit farther down, you will notice that the gorge begins to narrow. This is when you prepare to get wet. We watched excitedly as 2 hikers ahead of us ventured into the shoulder deep water with backpacks held overhead. After a few nervous laughs and deep breaths we all made our way across.
Shortly after your prideful exit out of the water, you will reach your prize, Oneonta Falls. It’s a beautiful sight and feel free to swim in and around the falls like my husband did, especially if you’re still numb from the wading. Don’t get too dried off because now you have to return the same way you came, but with more confidence! Keep your eyes out for fallen logs on the way back and turn them into natural sunbeds like we did.
We packed a lunch and simply tailgated at the car but I’m sure nearby Hood River would have plenty of options to satisfy your hunger or thirst.
We will definitely be returning next summer to do it all over again!
Here's more on the Lower Oneonta Falls. What a great Adventure!