Horsetail, Ponytail & Triple Falls
Western Gorge, Oregon
Horsetail, Ponytail, and Triple Falls (photographer: Micheal Drewry)
Hike Details
Type:
Out and back
Distance:
4.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
680 feet
Difficulty:
Moderate
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
No
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
WaterfallWaterfall
This is a quintessential western Gorge hike - 3 sparkling waterfalls (one in which you get to walk behind!), several outstanding Gorge views, and one unique Oneonta Gorge slot canyon all packed in 2.2 miles (one way)!
 
Begin the hike next to 176-ft Horsetail Falls and climb along a mossy slope of ferns. At .2 miles, turn right onto the Gorge Trail taking you to 80-ft Ponytail Falls in which you get to walk behind! Linger here to enjoy the dancing of the falls' spray.
 
Beyond the falls in .4 miles you'll come to several trails to the right. They lead to several outstanding viewpoints at the cliffs edge, high above the river. Be careful to not get to close to the edge.
 
Continue on the main trail another .4 miles, crossing over a metal footbridge above 60-ft Oneonta Falls. Quickly you'll arrive at a junction with the Oneonta Trail. Turn left here to Triple Falls, .9 miles up the trail, making for a perfect lunch spot.
 
Turn around and head back the way you came to complete this out-and-back 4.4 mile hike.
 
This hike enters the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness at approximately a few hundred feet south of the trail junctions of #438 and #424. Wilderness restrictions apply.
 
- Hike descriptions were collaboratively written with the generous support of oregonhikers.org.

Driving Directions

Horsetail Falls Trailhead:  From I-84, take Exit #35/Ainsworth. Travel west on the Historic Columbia River Highway for approximately 2 miles to the trailhead on your right/north.

Community Connection

Lyle Cherry Orchard’s trailhead is located approximately one mile from the Gorge town of Lyle and is home to the “Lyle” sign that sits above the community. Since this preserve was opened to the public the Lyle Cherry Orchard has provided the community with an accessible natural space right in their back yard. The sunny and dry preserve is the perfect hiking spot to visit during the rainier fall days in the western gorge. Visitors from the Gorge and beyond recreate on Lyle Cherry Orchard and in turn support the local economy.

Photo: View of town of Lyle from Lyle Cherry Orchard (Debbie Asakawa)

Preserve Story

The property where Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve lies currently was once grazing land for cattle and as the name suggests the eastern part of the preserve held a cherry orchard. The orchard and its trees were well abandoned by the time Nancy Russell purchased the property piece by piece in the 1990’s and later donated it to Friends in 2009. Nancy purchased the property when it came up for sale because it was within key viewing areas on the Oregon side of the Gorge and would have most likely become subdivided for development.

The land is also home to remnants of Lyle Convict Road, a demonstration road built by Sam Hill to convince Washington legislators to fund a Columbia River Highway. When Washington showed no interest in Sam’s project, he invited the entire Oregon legislature to his Maryhill estate to see his "Good Roads" work and Oregon quickly agreed to build on their side of the river what is today the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The trail at Lyle Cherry Orchard was started in when Friends' founder Nancy Russell purchased the property and has been open to the public and maintained Friends and its land trust ever since. In 2019, Washington Trails Association started work to reroute some parts of the trail and add new trail to explore for the benefit of Gorge residents.

In 2013, the land trust and volunteers removed a dilapidated house and outbuildings on the southwestern end of the property. Countless hours were spent removing building materials, old vehicles, garbage, and debris. In 2015 volunteers removed over 1,700 feet of fencing material on the property to allow for the free movement of wildlife across the landscape. Without the help of Friends volunteers and Gorge community members, projects like this would not be possible.

Photos: Before and after cleanup at Lyle Cherry Orchard (Friends' archive)