Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Hiking Lower Oneonta Falls, Troutdale, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

The last waterfall on my list that I wanted to see in Portland during our limited time there was the Oneonta River Gorge; in particular Lower Oneonta Falls.

Official Site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=29960
Additional Site: http://www.oregon.com/recreation/oneonta-gorge
Hiking Site: http://www.nwhiker.com/CGNSAHike53.html

To get to Oneonta, take the I-84E towards Multnomah Falls. Either take the Multnomah exit or the proceeding exit and backtrack along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The entrance to the gorge will be a small lot as well as cars parked on the opposite side along the bank. Cross your fingers if you decide to go late because parking is tight.

There are two ways to enjoy the Oneonta River Gorge: one way is to hike it on trail and the other is to hike it through the Oneonta Creek.

I wanted to hike through the creek.

There was some hesitation at first between me and Ben. By that point, it had been a long day, we had already been hiking for days straight between states and countries (Canada and US), and the prior fall, Horsetail, was just so underwhelming, that we weren't too motivated. Additionally, in order to reach the Lower Oneonta Fall, you need to hike in the river which meant getting wet. We simply didn't know if we were that desperate to see ANOTHER fall that day. But something about seeing all the people walk towards the trailhead was intoxicating. So we both switched to our swimsuits and got in.

In terms of safety and on the idea of wading through a river, Oneonta is absolutely safe. What appears to be moreso a local favorite than a tourist favorite, the river is teeming with people on their way to the falls or people simply enjoying the river. There is some initial scrambling over fallen logs, but if you approach them slowly, you should be more than safe.

Oneonta is absolutely stunning. The river is similar to the Narrows in Zion National park or Fern Canyon in northern California, the walls are teeming with vegetation.

After the scramble of the logs, you're instantly thrust into the thick of the gorge. From there on, your chances of staying dry are slim and just enjoy the view.

Most of the hike is ankle deep, but there will be times that'll force you into the water waist deep. If you absolutely don't want to go in at that point, you can attempt to traverse the wall, which I would rate as a v0-v1 for the abundance of holds for you to use. Even someone unaccustomed to climbing should be able to do it if they're even somewhat athletic.

Eventually, you'll find yourself at the Lower Falls. Some people like to dip themselves entirely underneath the waterfall. The water was way to cold for me to even entertain the idea.

All in all, I enjoyed this trail the most during my visit to the Columbia River Gorge area. Multnonah Falls may be the most iconic of all the falls there, but Oneonta is the true star of the show.

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