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35 votes

Oneonta Gorge

Columbia Gorge, Cascade Locks, Oregon 97014 USA

Tour & Activity Deals

Oneonta Gorge

Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge Tour from Portland

4 hours 15 minutes
From $54

Portland Combo: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Trolley and Columbia River Gorge Tour

2 days
From $86
Free to Visit
Open Now
Wed 12a-12a
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • No Public Restrooms
  • No Wifi
Add to Trip

“home to the emerald canyon”

This is a truly unique hike, unlike any other. Wade through a river, which varies in depth depending on the time of year...the river is the trail!

Oneonta Gorge is one of those hidden treasures that you just have to see to believe. Tucked away within the stunning Columbia River Gorge (which is a natural wonder all on its own), this magical creek might be one of America's most beautiful hikes. It was a miner '49er named Carleton Eugene Watkins, originally on the West Coast for the California gold rush, who first photographed the area, and he was the one who gave the gorge its name-- he called it "Oneonta" after his hometown of Oneonta, New York.  

Just fair warning-- if you do plan on hiking through the enchanting gorge, be prepared to get wet; at times the stream itself is the actual trail, taking you past enormus basalt walls covered in emerald green moss and bubbling, sparkling waterfalls. The lower gorge is a protected habitat for the rares lichens and ferns and wildlife, hence the need to walk upstream through the creek. There are four major waterfalls along the gorge (Upper Oneonta Falls, Middle Oneonta Falls, Lower Oneonta Falls and the triple falls), so the hike, which at times can be through chest-deep water, is totally worth it. If you'd rather not get wet while exploring Oneonta, don't sweat-- there are also trails and observation decks and bridges on dry land through other parts of the verdant gorge, so people of all hiking skill levels can experience it for themselves. - Roadtrippers

The Oneonta Gorge is in the Columbia River Gorge in the state of Oregon. The U.S. Forest Service has designated it as a botanical area because of the unique aquatic and woodland plants that grow there. The basalt walls are home to a wide variety of ferns, mosses, hepatics and lichens, many of which grow only in the Columbia River Gorge.

Oneonta Creek runs through the gorge. There are four major waterfalls on the creek. Middle Oneonta Falls can be seen clearly from a footpath and is very often mistaken for the upper or lower falls. The lower gorge has been preserved as a natural habitat, so there is no boardwalk or footpath through it as such. Thus, Lower Oneonta Falls can only be seen by walking upstream from the creek's outlet at the Historic Columbia River Highway. To get to a vantage point where the entire lower falls is visible can require wading through water that in some places can be chest-deep, depending on the season and the relative amount of snow-melt. The upper falls are about 1 mile upstream from the middle falls and require scrambling up the creek or climbing down a canyon wall to view. The fourth falls which is "Triple falls" can be seen from a vantage point on the upper trails in the canyon.

The Oneonta Gorge was first photographed by Carleton Emmons Watkins, a native of Oneonta, New York, who had traveled west during the time of California Gold Rush of 1849. Watkins named the Oneonta Falls after his hometown.

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Reviewed by

  • 332 Reviews
  • 168 Helpful
August 29, 2014
Rated 5.0

I'm dying to go here! Apparently the gorge is not accessible by trail. Rather you must walk up the creek bed, over a large and perhaps unstable log jam, through the gorge, and up to your waist (or even torso depending on your height and the time of year) in water until you finally see your prize.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
August 12, 2014
Rated 5.0


1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Chris Kyttle

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
October 13, 2017

Currently closed until spring

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
August 19, 2016
Rated 5.0

This very short hike was great fun! Flip flops won't cut it and make sure you have good water protection for your phones and cameras since we had to walk through at least 4ft deep water in addition to the Jaeger log jam. We were there around 9am and parking was nearly full. It's a mini-adventure.

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Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
July 21, 2016

Hiking up the Oneonta Gorge was a fun adventure!! I read that it was an easy hike; that isn't true. The hike requires climbing over a log jam and wading through cold water. Proper shoes are a must and only bring with you what is necessary. The hike itself is fun, but the reward is seeing the falls at the end.

Go as early as you can, because it gets a bit crowded.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
June 25, 2016
Rated 5.0

Definitely one of my favorite places, gorgeous all the way till the main event. Fun, not too long, cold water, and a beautiful ending.

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Reviewed by

  • 12 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
May 05, 2016
Rated 5.0

The water is really cold and the log jam takes some skill to get over, but the amazing views are well worth it! This place is a must see!

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Reviewed by

  • 32 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
May 05, 2016
Rated 3.0

It's a popular place. There's a lot of people wanting to take the plunge into freezing natural waters. It's an obstacle course to get there, rocks, logs, knee high and chest high water. But it is a beautiful trail and sight.

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Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,275 Reviews
  • 412 Helpful
February 25, 2016
Rated 5.0

Be prepared with good water shoes and waterproof your supplies and camera-- or don't bring them at all. You'll have to climb over logs and stuff, but it's so worth it.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 30, 2015
Rated 5.0

Great place to hike and explore. It was totally worth the hike.

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Oneonta Gorge

Columbia Gorge
Cascade Locks, Oregon
97014 USA


Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 12:00 am

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  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • No Public Restrooms
  • No Wifi

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