Oneonta Gorge is a unique and well preserved natures gem nestled in Columbia River Gorge, accessible on the Historic Columbia River Highway just couple of miles down from the popular Multnomah Falls. It is considered an adventure to hike this gorge, because of the creek trail, having to scramble over a huge pile of unstable logs and wade through chest deep (or higher) water to get to the ultimate prize - the lower Oneonta falls.
We parked in the designated parking space just before Oneonta bridge on the highway. A short stairway to the side of the bridge brought us down to the creek bed. We hiked upstream in the ankle deep freezing cold water. Fallen trees and broken down branches were strewn across the stream, often piled up. The enormous canyon walls no more than few feet apart were damp and alive with mosses, ferns and lichen growing through.
The hard and adventurous part was not too far. We had to climb a huge boulder and cross a giant logjam over a deep dark pool of water that accidentally consumed a human few years ago. Like that's not scary at all, we climbed up the boulder and onto the logs, carefully hopping from one log to the other, while giving way to people heading back. Log surfaces became smooth and slippery from the continuous sanding action of shoes of people visiting the gorge. At one point, somewhat in the middle of the jam, I gave up and stepped back. Hubby bravely crossed the pile as he was very determined to see what was beyond.
He managed to navigate through the logs and get the pictures he wanted. We both wouldn't have been able to cross the chest deep pond of freezing water that was ahead. Though wading through the water is considered a fairly easy part of the hike compared to the logjam, the water levels and temperatures change depending on the season and the amount of snow melt.
We weren't adventurous enough to witness the ultimate prize. Anyway, it was totally worth the trip. At least we got to witness the beautiful mossy green scenery and the mighty logjam.
Read full: Oregon Trip Report
Where to Stay: We stayed in Heathman Lodge in Vancouver WA. One option is to stay in Gresham area to be close to Portland. The other option is to stay in Hood River area.
Getting there: From Portland drive on freeway I-84E for about 20miles and take exit 22 onto Historic Columbia River Highway. There are many spots to stop by on this road, but in 15miles you will arrive at Oneonta Gorge.
Trail: Creek trail, slippery, uneven, cold, deep, may require swimming.
What to Bring: Dress in warm layers, water, sturdy shoes, and a camera.
Time to Spend: 1-2 hour.