Horsetail Falls Loop
Western Gorge, Oregon
Ponytail Falls. (photographer: Leighandra Rater)
Hike Details
2.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
660 feet
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details

Fire Impacts

This trail was impacted by the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. We encourage hikers to be extra alert when hiking in burned areas in the Gorge. Falling trees, landslides, and debris flows are more likely in the burned areas because of unstable soil due to less vegetation to hold it in place.

Creating a World-Class Trekking Network Encircling the Gorge

Learn more about the initiative to create a 200-mile loop trail network in the Gorge.

On the Trail

This easy, 2.5-mile loop starts at one of the Historic Columbia River Highway’s most scenic spots, Horsetail Falls, and gains 660 feet as it passes by three waterfalls and Oneonta Gorge. Along the way, it offers sweeping vistas from viewpoints at the trail’s higher elevations.

Permits & Pets

The trails along Horsetail and Oneonta creeks are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. No permits are required. Dogs must be on leash.

Trail Notes

  • Horsetail Falls on Horsetail Creek greets hikers at the very start of the trail; it’s a dramatic 214-foot drop with a pool at its base that’s a nice place to cool off after a summer hike. Begin hiking on Horsetail Falls Trail (Trail 438), which starts east of the falls. It switchbacks up the hillside before leveling out, high above the Gorge floor. In 0.4 mile, come to Ponytail Falls, where the trail passes behind the 88-foot falls in a naturally eroded cavern, offering fantastic photo opportunities.
  • From Ponytail, the trail continues west along the bluff; a side trail leads to viewpoints, but use caution when investigating them. Continue into Oneonta Canyon, high above Oneonta Creek, deep in its famous gorge here. Just past a weeping wall, switchback downhill. From the second switchback, you can peek down into the upper end of Oneonta Gorge. Cross Oneonta Creek on a metal bridge. Above the bridge is Middle Oneonta Falls. Just below the bridge, the creek disappears over the brink of Lower Oneonta Falls into Oneonta Gorge.
  • Beyond the bridge, switchback up to a junction with the Oneonta Trail (Trail 424). See the Triple Falls hike if you want a longer hike; a left on the Oneonta Trail leads to it.
  • To complete this loop, turn right and head down the Oneonta Trail. Pass a side trail to viewpoints on the right and come to a junction with Gorge Trail 400 as it heads toward Multnomah Falls, 2 miles to the west. Above the junction is an old stone wall. Here you may also see a seasonal waterfall just above the tree line.
  • Turn right to stay on the Oneonta Trail and head downhill to the Historic Highway. Turn right onto the highway and walk 0.5 mile back to the start. Pass beautiful Oneonta Gorge, where the creek flows between a narrow slot canyon, and walk through Oneonta Tunnel. Take care beyond the tunnel parking area, as the road is narrow.
  • Please always stay on the trail and clean your boots before and after you hike. Hikers and their dogs are common vectors for spreading invasive seeds.
  • There are no restrooms at the trailhead.

Post-Hike Explorations

Combine this short hike with more waterfalls and big views at two hikes that start 3.6 miles to the east. From Horsetail Falls, drive east on the Historic Highway. At the on-ramp to I-84 east, veer right onto Frontage Road (an old highway remnant). Just before it re-enters I-84, turn right into the John B. Yeon trailhead parking area. Trails here lead to Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek Falls, both short hikes with waterfalls and big views.

Directions & Travel Tips

Eastbound I-84: Take exit 28/Bridal Veil. At the top of Bridal Veil Road, turn left on the Historic Highway and drive 5.6 miles to the parking area at Horsetail Falls. Westbound I-84, take exit 35/Ainsworth and drive 1.6 miles west on the Historic Highway to the parking area at Horsetail Falls. There are no restrooms at the trailhead.