Field Notes: Over the River and Through the Gorge at Oregon’s Oneonta Gorge Trail

If you're up for an adventure...

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Oneonta Gorge is an Oregon hike unlike any other. Located in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, the route is only 1.2 miles round trip although there is no traditional trail. Instead, the “trail” is a hike upstream the river bend and a scramble over a large, slippery log jam. Summer and early fall are the best times to go when it’s hot out and water levels are low. For most of the hike the water level is at ankle to mid-calf height. At the last stretch some swimming is involved unless you have a little experience rock climbing— and in that case you can traverse the rocks around the deeper end to reach the finish line. In late June, the water levels were chest deep and the water was frigid but the swim was well worth it. Your reward is Lower Oneonta Falls, your own private waterfall with a shallow pool surrounded by the moss-covered walls of the gorge.

Oneonta Gorge is beautiful albeit challenging. As it is one of the most fun and popular hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, be sure to go on a weekday or early enough in the day to miss the heavy crowds on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you go:
Oneonta Gorge Trailhead