Guillaume and I decided to take a detour, a big one, on our way to Seattle. We had heard so many excellent reports about the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area (or ‘The Gorge” as locals call it), we began to regret our decision to skip it. We had a few extra days to play with, so we decided to swoop down and see what all the hype is about.
The Gorge spans the border of Washington and Oregon, and is the easiest place to see abundant waterfalls in the country (that’s my opinion at least). We spent two days in the Gorge and, no matter where we went, I couldn’t spit without hitting a majestic cascade!
It was rainy and overcast on our visit, so we didn’t venture on any mountain hikes for fear that we would only see clouds (like we encountered on our hikes in Olympia and Mount Rainier). Instead, we contented ourselves with two lower level hikes that spiraled through lush forests. Both hikes blew me away and will be making my “top ten hikes” list for this trip. “The Gorge” definitely lived up to the hype.
HIKE #1: Oneonta Gorge
Elevation Gain: 0 feet
Length: 1.2 miles round trip (out & back)
This trail isn’t really a trail, but more of a slog through a creek. About a quarter mile in, a log jam blocks the creek and climbing over the logs is slippery. Use extreme caution, especially with kids and pets. We had to carry Salies. After you clear the jam, be prepared to get wet! The creek varies from ankle to chest deep, and the water is cold! This hike would be so refreshing on a hot summer day, but all three of us were shivering and wet from head to toe. That being said, all of our suffering was worth it. This hike offers incredible views of the Oneonta Lower Falls and the deep crevasse has an other-worldly vibe. Think Narnia and Jurassic Park, combined. This hike is so unique, it is a MUST do.
HIKE #2: Triple Falls Loop
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Elevation Gain: 740 feet
Length: 4.3 miles round trip (loop)
Have an obsession with waterfalls? On this easy five mile trail, you’ll fill your waterfall quota and then some. Starting at Horsetails Falls parking lot (adjacent to your first epic waterfall by the same name), you’ll ascend a short trail until you reach Ponytail Falls (my favorite on this trek). Ponytail Falls allows you to actually walk behind the waterfall without getting wet, which is always a treat! As you continue the hike, you’ll come across Upper Oneonta Falls and finally the distinctive Triple Falls. Basically, you get a new waterfall every mile.. which is pretty sweet!