Oneonta Gorge to Lower Oneonta Falls
Western Gorge, Oregon
Lower Oneonta Falls (photographer: Jeremiah Leipold)
alert Trail Alert, Jul 24, 2020: This trail remains closed due to damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. Check the Ready Set Gorge website - readysetgorge.com - for the latest updates on trail and recreation area closures.

Hike Details
Type:
Out and back
Distance:
0.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
400 feet
Difficulty:
Easy
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
No
Restrooms:
No
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
WaterfallWaterfall

Fire Impacts

This trail is closed due to the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. Currently there is no timeline for reopening. Check ReadySetGorge.com for updates and additional information.

Looking for an alternate hike? View a list of staff-recommended trails that are open to the public.


Learn About Friends' Public Engagement Work

Building a diverse cross-section of public support is critical to sustaining our efforts to preserve the Gorge.

On the Trail

Oneonta Gorge, a slot canyon painted with brilliant lichen, is one of the most celebrated wonders of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The rocky creek bed that serves as the trail is just 0.3 mile to the base of Lower Oneonta Falls, a 100-foot drop into a pool. A large logjam and pools that require a swim or chest-high wading lie between the trailhead and the falls.

Fire Impacts

This trail is closed due to extensive damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. Currently there is no timeline for reopening.

Trail Notes

  • From the Historic Highway’s crossing of Oneonta Creek, descend to the creek bed via a set of stairs along the west wall of the canyon. These stairs date to the highway’s construction in 1914. The creek bed changes constantly with seasonal water levels and logjams. When the Historic Highway was built, no logs blocked the creek, and the walk to the falls was, at low water, a shallow wade. In the 1990s, logs jammed the canyon, creating an obstacle course that has created deep pools above it. Please use caution when hiking on this creek bed, as the footing is very uneven.
  • 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.

Please Note:

  • The creek bed is very rocky; water shoes are recommended.
  • This trail is very busy on hot summer weekends. We recommend going during the week. You’ll appreciate the experience much more.
  • Do not attempt to climb on the small cliff next to the falls and jump in the water. If you injure yourself here, you’ll have a long wait before emergency personnel can get to you.
  • All of the above apply to the trail's pre-fire condition. The fire damage was extensive and the trail is closed. Please do not attempt to traverse it.

History

Oneonta Gorge was one of the “beauty spots” highlighted in the original design of the Columbia River Highway. The bridge and road, built here in 1914–1915, originally ran through the Oneonta Tunnel, just east of Oneonta Creek.

The 125-foot, timber-lined tunnel runs through a 200-foot-high basalt outcrop. In 1948, with increasing traffic, a new bridge over Oneonta Creek was built and the road diverted to the outside of the basalt outcropping. The tunnel was filled with rubble and abandoned. In 2009, as part of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail restoration effort, the tunnel was reopened. In 2017 the Eagle Creek fire burned through the tunnel, obliterating the timbers.

The original Oneonta Creek Bridge is still intact. It was designed by K.P. Billner of the Oregon State Highway Department. He also designed the beautiful bridge at Shepperd’s Dell farther west on the Historic Highway. The 1948 bridge sits atop old railroad bridge abutments. The railroad moved farther north, on fill deposited to the north of the bridge. Learn more about the Oneonta Tunnel.

Post-Hike Explorations

Hike from the Oneonta trailhead, slightly west of Oneonta Gorge up to Triple Falls on the upper reaches of Oneonta Creek.

Nearby Hikes



Directions & Travel Tips

Eastbound I-84: Take exit 35/Ainsworth and drive west on the Historic Columbia River Highway 1.5 miles. Oneonta Gorge is on the left, with limited parking along the road, to its east and west. There are no restrooms at the trailhead.