We wouldn’t even call this a hike. It’s more of a log and rock scramble, short swim, and walk through a creek, all wrapped up in one. But it’s very fun!
The Oneonta Gorge Trailhead is located on the Historic Columbia River Highway just past Multnomah Falls (if coming from Portland area). There are two small parking areas but it gets pretty sketchy on hot summer weekends.
Head down the staircase that drops you into Oneonta Gorge and follow the creek until you see the massive rock and log jam. We went on a very hot weekend and there were massive amounts of people. This made the logs very slick with mud and water and was a pretty slow go.
After you have (carefully!) made your way over the rocks and logs keep heading upstream in ankle deep water. You’ll come to the first of two pools quickly. The water is about thigh high on a 5’2 female and mid shin on a 6’3 male. This pool is short and leads to more ankle deep water.
The second pool is much deeper and we ended up swimming this part. Although the 6’3 male could have walked with the water about to his shoulders, it’s just easier to swim. After the last pool it’s only ankle deep water and you round a corner to the falls.
This is a very short hike but we can’t stress enough to be safe. Flip flops and flimsy sandals are not suitable, and we saw kids and pets struggling. The water is ice cold and can take your breath away.
Want to checkout Upper Oneonta Falls? It’s on the Horsetail/Ponytail Falls hike.
Distance: 1 mile
Pet Friendly: No
Good For: Anyone who is comfortable with a scramble.
Parking Fee: None
Overall: This is a fun way to beat the heat. We would recommend going during the week to beat the crowds.