Tag Archives: Ponytail Falls

Ponytail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

This hike is partially open, you can hike from Horsetail Falls up to Ponytail Falls. There is a large fence blocking the trail just past Ponytail Falls.


As you start out on the trail just to the left of Horsetail Falls you will immediately notice fire damage. There are large rocks that have fallen, a lot of trees have been removed and limbs are across the trail. It’s definitely passable but use caution for falling debris especially if it’s been rainy and windy recently.



The trail switchbacks taking you above Horsetail Falls. There are definitely “new” views with all the tree removal but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward. Once you’re at the top you’ll round a corner and see Ponytail Falls. The trail heads downhill slightly and continues on behind the waterfall. This is where the trail ends for now at a fence. Head back out the way you came in.


Please respect the trail closures they are put in place for everyones safety. We saw a couple people go up and around the fence and you risk your safety, the peoples safety that would have to help you if something happens, and being ticketed.


Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This hike goes through a burn area, read all the posted warning signs before heading out.


Ponytail Falls (Summer)

This hike was done less than a week before the Eagle Creek fire. We don’t know how bad this trail has been damaged. Hopefully the damage was minimal and we’ll be able to see all three of the waterfalls on this hike again soon!

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

We decided to do this hike in the opposite direction that we went the last time we visited, which was a couple years ago. To see that post click here.

Park in the Horsetail Falls parking lot and take the trail just to the left of the waterfall. You’ll be heading up long switchbacks that take you up above Horsetail Falls. The trail levels out a bit as you round a corner and start hearing Ponytail Falls. The waterfall itself pours out of a crack in the basalt shelf and dumps into a small pool below. The trail takes you behind the waterfall and continues on the other side.



Not far after the waterfall you’ll pass a slide area and come to a side trail that takes you to a great view of the Columbia River and nice views of the Gorge to the east. Back on the main trail it continues to stay pretty level for a bit and then you hit a few more switchbacks as you head down into the Oneonta Gorge area. You’ll cross a bridge and get a nice view of Middle Oneonta Falls and the Gorge itself. If you’re here on a warm day you’ll probably hear the crowds of people at Lower Oneonta falls below.


After crossing the bridge the trail heads uphill to a trail junction. Go right here and the trail switches from being level to heading uphill, but nothing too steep. There is another small slide area and you’ll pass another side trail that takes you to a viewpoint. Soon the trail starts heading downhill as you make your way down to the old highway.


Go right on the should of the highway (be cautious, there isn’t a lot of room here) and pass Oneonta Gorge and go through the Oneonta tunnel, about a quarter of a mile later you’ll be back at Horsetail Falls.


Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This depends on how comfortable you are with hiking. There are a decent amount of switchbacks on this trail and places you could fall (there was a death on this trail last year). You’ll also be walking along the old highway for a short distance. Be cautious and make sure you’re surefooted and you should be fine.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: Falling and walking along a narrow road.

Ponytail Falls Loop (Spring)

To start this hike you will need to park at Horsetail Falls.

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.


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From the Horsetail Falls parking area take a right and walk along the Old Highway for about 1/2 mile until you reach the Oneonta trailhead (you’ll be passing through the Oneonta Gorge Tunnel along the way). Head uphill along the Oneonta trail that starts out fairly steep and switches back. The trail eventually flattens out as you pass a few viewpoints.


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Soon you’ll come to a trail junction. Go left on Horsetail Falls Trail #438 that switches back downhill and takes you to a bridge over Middle Oneonta Falls. Please be aware that there is a sign on the bridge (and at the trailhead) stating that there can only be one person crossing at a time. After crossing the bridge the trail gradually heads back uphill with a few switchbacks and then levels out again.


A short while later you will come to another sign marking a viewpoint. We highly recommend taking the few extra steps to check it out. you get great views of the Columbia River Gorge! It’s also a great spot to stop for a snack or lunch. After the viewpoint continue along the trail for a short distance and you’ll soon start hearing Poinytail Falls. The trail rounds a corner and drops you down and behind the falls.




Once you’re done taking in Ponytail Falls continue along the trail as it heads back downhill in long switchbacks to the parking area of Horsetail Falls.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Elevation: 620 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- It is steep in areas and there are places that you could fall if you aren’t careful.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great Gorge hike- we love waterfalls you can walk behind 🙂

Frozen Gorge Waterfalls

We had a nice dose of freezing weather over the last couple weeks, so we decided to check out the Gorge and see if the waterfalls were putting on a frosty show.


We decided to check out Ponytail Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Multnomah Falls.

Ponytail Falls (Upper Horsetail Falls) is a short but steep half mile up from Horsetail Falls. The trail switchbacks many times and you get great views of the Gorge. It’s also one of those fun waterfalls that you can walk behind.




Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls are both great options if you don’t feel like hiking in below freezing temps. Both are easily visible from the comfort of your car.


DSC_0067We definitely recommend Stabilicers or some sort of traction shoe. We saw a LOT of people sliding and falling.

It’s definitely worth the time to check out a waterfall or two when the temperature dips below freezing!