Horsetail / Ponytail Falls Icy!

1.5 mile RT

Garmin Interactive Map (.5 mi to Ponytail Falls, .25 mi to Top of falls)

I always enjoy heading out to the Columbia River Gorge when them East winds blow the arctic breeze through. The ice-glazed or even sometimes just iced over waterfalls are a beautiful site that is pretty incredible to see!

On this particular day the temperature was high 20’s with a killer wind chill from the East.

 

Horsetail Icy - 01

[Horsetail Falls]

Horsetail falls is always a powerful flowing waterfall year-round. The combination of its powerfulness and the chilly East wind created its own little ice climate. The wind blew the water willy-nilly causing it to freeze wherever landing (ODOT was quick to lay sand/gravel on large icy patches of road).

 

Horsetail Icy - 05

[Ponytail Falls]

Our original plan was to make a short trek up to Triple Falls; however, the ice was way intense and impassable with the gear we had or didn’t have. Ponytail Falls consistently sprays water West – with the icy temps this has caused a 30 + foot section of the trail to be a thick layer of ice. Hiking up to this point we saw other hikers ‘snowshoeing up’ simply to cross this treacherous section – we laughed until we approached the same section….

Horsetail Icy - 07

The extremely thick layer of slippery ice and a slight uphill grade were enough to turn around without snowshoes or crampons – after of course at a poor attempt. Dexter and I slowly hobbled with one trekking pole up a few feet until Kristin made the executive decision of turning around. It was even more scary to go back the 10 feet. Dexter started pulling me being the catalyst for my not-needed-speed as I ice skated downhill. Luckily the combination of my trekking pole and Kristin at the bottom I was able to regain control and not die.

Horsetail Icy - 15

[Above Ponytail Falls]

After just a mere .5 mile of hiking I knew this wouldn’t suffice Dexter’s need for high mile exercise. We turned back and hiked up above Ponytail Falls. The trail is unmaintained and steep. This trail actually continues onto Rock of Ages and Bell Creek area allowing you to do a loop depending on your ambition.

Horsetail Icy - 14

[Ponytail Falls flowing downward as waterfalls do.. ]

Horsetail Icy - 10 [Creek above the falls fast-flowing and icy]

We ended up hanging out above Ponytail falls for awhile taking in the winter-wonderland. There is a solid area to chill and potentially camp if you wanted – although there are many better places to camp. Just being .5 mi from the road you can hear the traffic, trains and people. I personally enjoy the feeling of remoteness and crowd-less-ness. At any rate this 1 mile round trip is always a fun little jot and well worth it.

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