Posts Tagged ‘water falls’

Oneonta Gorge

July 9 2010

0 Feet
1 mile Round Trip
Myself, Kristin
Oneonta Gorge Hiking Photos
Hiker Trail Info

Oneonta Gorge is by far one of my favorite spots to go to cool off on a hot summer day. It is also many other people’s favorite spot as well – get there early and expect to move slow especially on hot weekend days.

Oneonta Gorge is located just 45 minutes East of Portland, Oregon. It is most easily accessed by traveling East on Interstate 84 to exit 35. Exit 35 will put you on the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway – Travel West for about 3.5 miles (just beyond Horsetail Falls) and there is parking on both sides of the gorge.

In 1996 the Portland Region experienced some of the most severe weather it has ever seen. It all started in January 96’ with a heavy rains. The rain completely saturated the ground causing river levels to rise and ground to loosen. Late in January the region received a heavy snow storm (areas at low elevations even saw lots of snow!) followed by an artic blast. This turned everything to ice for a little over one week. In early February temperatures rose quickly melting the ice layers and then it began to rain. The combination of rising temperatures and large amounts of rain was the catalyst for the flooding and many landslides.

[Video footage shot in downtown Portland during the 1996 flooding – it was pretty cool how the community all came together to sand-bag the flood-threatened areas!]

The Columbia River Gorge winters are serve enough, but with the added severity (wind, snow, ice, rain, quickly rising temps) it was a disaster zone. There were many landslides that occurred in the Western Columbia River Gorge Corridor. The two main slides that are still evident to this very day is the Dodson and Oneonta Gorge slides.

The Dodson Slide is visible just East of exit 35. The evidence is mind-blowing. I once took a geology field trip to this slide zone and was able to see and learn about the extreme force brought through this area. There is a white house located right off the Columbia River Historic Highway (East of exit 35), which sits close to the road. This older couple once lived much closer (South) to the great basalt cliffs prior to the slide. Their old house was picked up by all of the debris – foundation intact and all – and slid down the hillside. Over the years the area around the landslide house has been overgrown with vegetation making it difficult to spot from the road.


[white house – everyone in the area was evacuated well before the slide occurred]

The Oneonta Gorge slide occurred similar as the Dodson Slide; however, the slide used Oneonta Creek as the catalyst for moving debris down the hillside. Over the years most of the debris has been cleared from the gorge – that is except for the huge log jam. About 100 yards into Oneonta Gorge the gorge walls narrow.  Here sits large boulders and a stack of logs strategically placed like Lincoln Logs by the man upstairs himself.

IMG_0521 IMG_0522

[left – North/front side of log jam; right – South/back side of log jam]

This log/boulder jam is one of the things that make this hike so unique. I thoroughly enjoy climbing up and over the jam. However, it also can be extremely dangerous. The logs are weathered with most of the bark (traction) stripped away making it for a slick journey up and over. It scares the hell out of my when I see unattended children crossing this section alone as I’ve seen so many times. As a regular summer hiker through this gorge luckily I have only personally witnessed one person falling. A 7 year old boy was much ahead (or the mother was behind) climbing by himself. He stepped onto an extremely slick surface and lost his footing falling 5-6 feet in between a few logs hitting his head. I was able to get to him fairly quick helping him out of the log crevasse. He was definitely in shock and his mother still no where to be seen. Others who witnessed the boy falling relayed the message to the mother. Once the boy saw his mom he began to cry. Luckily in this case things were not much worse than a few bumps and bruises. As this log jam can be dangerous let it not deter you from enjoying this little gem. It can get crowded at the log jam and some may feel rushed – Just take your time (go at a speed that is comfortable for you) and use common sense – if it doesn’t feel right ITS NOT!

Beyond the log jam enjoy cooling off by walking through the creek for about another .25 mile. There is a series of two deeper sections. The second section is the deepest – about 4 ft (depending on time of year/water levels). For those who are a little more adventurous and have the climbing skills – climbing the basalt sidewalls is definitely doable and makes for good practice for deep sea soloing.


[Left – 2nd wading section (the deepest); Center – Me at towards end of deep section; Right – Oneonta Falls]

IMG_2373 IMG_2374

[Climbing/ jumping into the falls]

The absolute best time to hike Oneonta Gorge is on a hot summer day at 12 noon when the sun is shinning hot into the gorge. When the sun isn’t shinning into the gorge it tends to be a little cooler than most like. Either way its a great time and a great way to cool off.


Eagle Creek – Punch Bowl Falls – Tunnel Falls – Wahtum Lake

MAY 7 2010

5,310 Feet
30.02 miles Round Trip
Myself, David, Drew
Eagle Creek Hiking Photos

Route Replay
Hiker Trail Info

Eagle Creek is an extremely popular trail due to the multiple waterfalls, swim areas, and its relatively flat. The trail starts about a half mile or so from the Camp Host area (right of Interstate 84). If you plan on doing a multi-day trip it is wise to park here and tack on the extra mileage because it will give you some peace of mind that your car is relatively safe in this more highly trafficked area.

The trail parallels Eagle Creek most of the way providing you with some great views of the creek, waterfalls, and high cliffs. Eagle Creek flows through a small gorge with high cliffs on either side. Much of the trail was cut into the hillside – hence its unstableness during the winter months.

On hot summer days the general public usually hikes up just 2 miles to Punch Bowl Falls. This is a beautiful waterfall that has become a hot spot for adrenaline seekers. For others it is simply a popular swimming hole. However, in May it seemed as though nobody was willing to test out the mountain cold water.


[Thrill Seekers jumping off of Punch Bowl Falls]

The High Bridge that crosses over Eagle Creek is at about mile 3 and is another popular out and back day hike. Just another 3 miles down the trail is Tunnel Falls (6miles in). Tunnel Falls is a man made tunnel that moles through the cliff side behind a waterfall. The tunnel was blasted and built back in the 1910s as another attraction along the Historic Columbia River Highway. This is an awesome waterfall that is extremely powerful! This video walk-through does not do it justice, but gives you a glimpse –

[Dave filming Drew and I walking through Tunnel Falls]

For day hikers the journey typical ends here at Tunnel Falls. I always recommend to family and friends to walk another .2 miles up trail to enjoy yet again more waterfalls. Twisty Falls is a cool falls and just above it there is a great lunch spot along the creek.

IMG_9408 [Twisty Falls]

Twisty Falls was the furthest I had hiked up until this trip. I have 2 beefs with the Eagle Creek Trail – How crowded it gets and how rocky the trail is. When it is really crowded on this trail it can definitely ruin your hiking experience. Many sections of this trail are along cliffs with not-so-wide trail, which makes it difficult pass by others. The other small annoyance is how rocky the trail is. It may sound petty, but when you log some decent mileage on this trail your feet will definitely let you know!

We left on a Friday afternoon and avoided most of the crowds. Beyond Tunnel Falls we saw just 5 people (over the course of 6 miles). The section after Tunnel Falls is absolutely amazing with many more waterfalls. As you start to gain elevation the trail improves from sharp rock to soft undergrowth – making things much easier on the feet and knees.

Our start time was 1:16pm. Our plan was to make it up to Wahtum Lake and camp there. Then the following day based on weather conditions we would hopefully do a loop up to Chinidere Point – Benson Plateau – and down Ruckel Creek. I was well aware that snow levels were low and that our trip could be altered, but I was excited to just get out on the trail and was cool with playing things by ear.

Passing people early on we were asked about our trip. This older guy told us a few stories about “when he was younger” and how him and his buddies hiked all over the area. Then he proceeded to tell us that it would be a long shot for us to make it up to Wahtum Lake that night. This nonetheless motivate the hell out of us. I knew it might be close, but was definitely optimistic with how we were holding up so far pace wise.

From Twisty Falls the trail continues to follow the creek for just another mile or so then shoots up into the dense forest gaining some decent elevation. At about 2100ft (Inspiration Point) you get a decent glimpse of how vast the Columbia River Gorge Forest is. Beyond Inspiration Point we were welcomed with small sections of snow. At first it was kind of fun – then it became annoying – then we were completely done with it and never wanted to see it again.

IMG_9452 [Dave and Drew at Inspiration Point looking onward]


[Dave struggling in the soft deep snow – Drew plotting a much smarter route to avoid being eaten up by the deep cold snow]

Despite the deep snow and us probably being somewhat ill-equipped for such conditions we pushed on and finally made it to Wahtum Lake. However, this was the scene when we arrived…

DSCN0505[Me taking a break from the snow in a mud puddle – also contemplating this as a camping spot]


[Wahtum Lake snow covered in all]

Once we arrived to Wahtum Lake we achieved are goal, but definitely needed a place to eat, get warm, and sleep and Wahtum Lake was definitely not it! After strategizing about possible alternative routes – we finally came to our senses after starring off into the obis and seeing snow everywhere. It was decided to turn around and head back down below the snow level. We plowed through the snow in a quarter of the time it took us to hike up. We quickly hiked down and could feel the temperature increase as we dropped in elevation. It got dark fast in the trees so we had to bust out our headlamps to find camp.

Hiking up we saw many great camping spots. This trail is highly used by boy scout groups and is well-maintained with good signage and plentiful campsites near the trail.  We pulled off at the first decent looking camp spot. Time was of the essence as the little day light we did have was fading fast. We quickly unpacked and started setting up the tent, cooking dinner, and gathering firewood.

Lucky for us it was rather warm once we hiked down below the snow level. We had a few solid attempts at building a fire with water-logged wood, but in the end it was a failure. However, it was definitely entertaining to see who could get the fire to sustain itself the longest.

DSCN0513 [Dave’s 2 man tent ended up having to fit 3 men – it all worked out okay in the end..]

We awoke to a cold morning. With our subpar fire starting skills and the wet wood we decided to get on the trail right away. We hiked a few miles down to another great camping spot and cooked up some piping hot oatmeal – delicious!

DSCN0523 [Love oatmeal in the morning!]

IMG_9519 [Nearby creek – used it to clean our dishes]

After breakfast the sun started to come out a bit warming up the densely cool forest. With doing an out and back hike instead of our planned loop things were a bit more relaxing. We didn’t have to worry about time and were able to take in the sights a bit more as our pace was much less rigorous going down. We came across a few early risers who had similar plans as ours. We shared our experience and talked out some possible alternative routes due to snow levels.

We reenergized at one of my favorite spots on the way back – Twisty Falls. Took the boots off, ate some food, and took in some vitamin d.

The sun and blue skies brought out the crowds. Once we turned the corner to Tunnel Falls we started to see more and more people. It was nice as all of the traffic was headed up trail.

We took a couple more short breaks just off the trail to give the feet a break from the sharp rocky trail. I finally learned how to use the ‘macro’ feature on my camera.

IMG_9539 [testing out my camera features]

This was a solid backpacking trip. I would recommend it most especially to the beginner backpacker (in ideal conditions) as it is relatively flat, just 30 miles and has amazing views (waterfalls, riverside hiking, valley views, etc). If you wanted to cut down on the mileage you also could drive up to Wahtum Lake and hike down through Eagle Creek.

Wahclella Falls

300 Feet
2 miles Round Trip
Brian, Myself
Wahclella Falls Hiking Photos

NW Hiker Trail Info

Wahclella Falls is a great waterfall that sits back off about one mile in a small canyon. The hike starts with walking along a service road, which leads to an odd fish ladder structure that is constantly monitored.

Just beyond the fish ladder structure the access road turns into a wide trail following the Tanner Creek upstream. The trail crosses over a short bridge, which was built because of the great amount of run off from snow melt. There is a great waterfall that rushes down the rock face flowing into Tanner Creek. I always enjoy hiking many of the trails of the gorge during the rainy/ wet season because there are more seasonal waterfalls visible and the year around falls are much more powerful.

About a half mile into the hike you will come to a trail juncture, which allows you to do a looping hike. I always veer to the left hiking up the steeper trail – getting the more difficult part out of the way first and plus there are fewer people that choose this direction (the first 100 ft or so is kind of steep so it looks a little daunting, but then it levels out).

The canyon is wide and open with a good amount of trees and vegetation. Even with how open the canyon feels Wahclella Falls still seems extremely huge and powerful. Wahclella Falls is a two part falls also including a small side falls (winter run off) that flows into the mid section. The force of the water falling creates a mist that can carries a long ways giving you a taste of the chilliness of the frigid ice cold water.

[Wahclella Falls – with the mist getting to the lens of my camera]

After snapping a few quick shots before getting completely soaked we retreat to the other side of Tanner Creek – a much more protected area from the cold misting falls. The creek is much more calm and clear, but the current is still swift.  The canyon walls are formed by aged basalt columns that have eroded over time. In one area there is a small cave that goes a surprisingly long ways (further depending on how big you are/ how claustrophobic you are as well). I geared up with a headlamp and began my short-lived spelunking journey and was quickly distracted with a lizard crawling in the distance.

[A good ole cave lizard]

We continued our loop along the Westside of the canyon. Making the loop gives you great perspective of the size of the canyon. Along the Westside of the canyon you are at a better vantage point to view Tanner Creek. The white water makes it tempting to want to kayak.

Just as we were leaving the sun started to shine through the clouds and more people started to show up. This hike is a great family trail – its short, relatively easy and there is some great educational opportunities along the trail (wildflowers, wildlife, etc). Also, depending on how ambitious you are feeling this could be either a starting/ending hike – there are many other great hikes that can be accessed from the same parking area.

Angles Rest

Angels Rest
1600 Feet  (Stephen was at about 1613 by climbing the tree ha)
4.8 mi
Myself, Kristin, David, Stephen, James, Drew
Angels Rest Hike + Mt Hood Meadows Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info
Portland, OREGON Hiker Info

Angels Rest is a quick n’ dirty hike to the top of one of the most exposed points in the Columbia River Gorge. Angels Rest is an extremely recognizable point in the Gorge viewable from the freeway. It sticks out like a sore pinky after a hard day of climbing at Smith Rock. When traveling eastbound look off to your right and up about 1600 feet and it’s the most exposed bare point with a few distinct trees atop.

Our party started the hike mid-morning. I am always weary of parking in that area due to the risk of a break in. It seems like I always see glass on the ground. I will give credit to the law enforcement for stepping up patrols all along the old highway – this has helped tremendously!

The hike starts with a gradual climb and immediately opens up to some great views of the Columbia River Gorge. Just beyond this clearing you come to Coopey Falls. This waterfall is about 35 feet in height – Stephen chose to use his own measuring methods to determine the “true height.”

From Coopey Falls the trail just gets steeper – switchbacks, switchbacks, switchbacks! The trail was recently rerouted, which ultimately made more switchbacks but definitely improved the trail. Prior to the improvements the trail climbed straight up the ridge – going up and over rocks and exposed tree roots. Rainfall caused the trail to become a muddy mess. A big shout out to the trail crew! Volunteer Opportunities –

When you reach the top of where the old trail meets the new one make sure you are all bundled up because the trees start to thin exposing you to the elements – getting blasted by wind! At this point the trail climbs steep switchbacks on the northface getting blasted by the great winds of the mighty Columbia River Gorge. Here’s some video footage from 2009 when I hiked it with my brother –

After hiking the steep north facing switchbacks the trail curves around to the west of the summit into a plethora of basalt rocks. This area is well protected from the wind. This area becomes a popular spot for lunch and sun bathing on a nice summer afternoon.

The trail continues South beyond the rocky area and then switches back to the summits ridge. To reach the true summit it entails hopping up and over a couple large rocks and then braving the usually extreme wind gusts. Atop of Angel’s Rest is arguably the best panorama view of the Columbia River Gorge. There stationed is a wind proof bench to sit, relax, and just look.

This day did not end after the steep downhill hike/run down to the parking lot…. We all piled into the car and drove on over to Mt Hood Meadows to do some “Meadows After Dark” riding. This action packed day was truly epic…

Angels Rest Hike + Mt Hood Meadows Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info
Portland, OREGON Hiker Info

-Garrett Hampton

Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop

Distance: RT 5 miles
Duration: 3 hours
Party: Mom, Dad, Myself
Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop Photos
NW Hiker info
Portland hiker info

It was one of those rare February winter days where the sun was out and the air was brisk. We started the hike from the Multnomah Falls parking lot.

I enjoy doing this loop counter clockwise because of the unique perspective you gain from this direction. Also, it’s nice to start the hike with a bit more solitude rather than the crowds hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls.

Like most hikes in the Columbia River Gorge there was an initial steep elevation gain. From the bottom of Wahkeena Falls to Lemons Point is a paved trail that climbs about 700 ft. Lemons Point offers beautiful views of the Western Columbia River Gorge. The trail continues to climb along Wahkeena Creek, which is fed from the snow run off of Larch Mountain.

Continue hiking up trail #420 and it will come to a fork with trail #419. Trail #420 meanders through the forested area and then merges with the #419 detour trail. Trail #419 offers great vista views, but can be difficult when wet because of the combination of steepness and mud. I usually take the #419 detour because the vista views are incredibly rewarding.

Less than a mile the trails merge at the juncture. Devils Rest trail head is at this juncture as well. Devils Rest is a painful steep climb to nothing. The one highlight about Devil’s Rest is there is little foot traffic creating a solitude experience. When I have hiked it in the past I was actually able to see some deer on the trail. This is pretty rare because of all of the foot traffic.

All in all this is a great hike especially if you are into waterfalls. There are a number of em’ along the trail –

Wahkeena Falls, Fairy Falls, Dutchman Falls, Wiesendanger Falls, Multnomah Falls and a few others even!

Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop Photos
NW Hiker info
Portland hiker info

– Garrett Hampton

Larch Mountain – Columbia River Gorge


View pictures here:
PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page –

Now that we are in the Holiday season I find myself with even less time to get out and play. So to “get my blog on” this week I decided it would be best served by reminiscing about one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge – the almighty Larch Mountain.

Larch Mt is one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge due to its close proximity to the city and diversity of scenery along the trail. This hike can be done a few different ways –

Popular Starting Points: Larch Mountain

Multnomah Falls*

Horsetail Falls

Angel’s Rest

These are a couple of my favorite approaches. Multnomah Falls is definitely the shortest amongst all. However, Multnomah Falls (15 miles RT) is usually crowded and makes for a longer hike having to weave in and out of the numerous people making the “short” hike to the top of the falls. The “short hike” to the top is a far too common misconception amongst tourist as well as many Portland Metro Goers. Despite people even being able to visually see where the top viewpoint (noting the elevation gain) and seeing the mileage marker sign of 1 mile at the trailhead.

*A side note* – I have hiked up this trail passing women walking in high heals, pregnant women, people that were pulling up their 16 year old son in a wagon, morbidly obese people who look like they are going to collapse out of exhaustion, and many other misfits – but hey, at least they are out there right? Multnomah Falls recently has updated the one mile climb up with signage on each switchback to show what # of switchback you are on and the distance to go so people can decide if they still feel its worth it…

The trail follows up Multnomah creek most of the way up providing for beautiful views of multiple waterfalls and vistas. At the top – Sheppards Point 4,050 ft – views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer… on a clear day.

The first and last 2 miles are the most strenuous. Generally speaking – in the Columbia River Gorge, the first mile of most trails are steep and strenuous climbing to the top of the ridge of the gorge.

Just beyond the top of Multnomah Falls the trail traffic slows. The trail parallels Multnomah Creek for most of the way as it continues a slow but steady incline up to Sheppards Point. There are many waterfalls ranging in size – each very unique in their own way.

Three bridges cross over Multnomah Creek as the trail winds through the rugged hills up to Larch Mountain. Shortly after the third bridge crossing there is an open rock clearing. At this point it begins to steadily become steeper.

The next big trail juncture is 2 miles from Sheppards Point. The last 2 miles of the trail climb through a highly dense forested area with little visibility of the surrounding area making it difficult to navigate in the dark or when snow is on the ground.

I have gotten out of some sticky situations by understanding the topography of the area. I have hiked this trail in June on an 80+ degree day and 2.5 miles from Sheppards Point we hit snow. By knowing the topography of the area I knew it would be more efficient to stay along the ridgeline rather than following up the trail through the dense snowy forest. Many people have gotten lost in this area by coming into similar situations – the dense forest turns people around and disables their sense of direction completely.

I will be the first to say I have been lost. I actually like to phrase it more like “I was temporarily misguided.” I believe that being lost in somewhat of a controlled environment (comfortable weather; within close proximity of civilization; readily prepared – food, first aid kit, emergency blanket, etc) only strengthens your abilities to navigate and survive in more extreme situations. In some of my experiences of being lost people have the tendency to make irrational decisions that can potentially be damaging. It is absolutely quintessential to think clearly through each decision and action taken.

For all day hikes I go prepared with –

  • Day pack
  • Water (water treatment – iodine tablets)
  • Food (energy bars, trail mix, candy, etc)
  • First Aid (athletic tape, alcohol pads, pain reliever)
  • Clothes (Layers, rain jacket, fleece, gloves, beanie hat)
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Fire (matches/lighter)

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PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page –

Happy Hiking!