Horsetail Falls Loop Trail, Oregon — Excellent Family Hike

While the hike at Multnomah Falls was disappointing, the hike at Horse Tail Falls was everything I was hoping for and more. The month was April and on the trip were my husband, myself, and our two teens ages 15 and 17. On this hike we saw:

On this hike we saw:

— two beautiful waterfalls, Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls (pictured below)
— a bridge over the creek that becomes Oneonta Falls
— an abundance of moss, lichen, ferns, and mushrooms
— fantastic views of the Columbia River Gorge

Ponytail Falls, Columbia River Gorge

All this remarkable scenery is packed into a mere 2.3 miles. Begin the hike next to 176-ft Horsetail Falls. At .2 miles, turn right onto the Gorge Trail which takes you to the 80-ft Ponytail Falls. Here you get to walk behind the falls!

About .4 miles later, you’ll come to several trails to the right. These lookouts have outstanding views of the Columbia River Valley from far above the river. Be careful not to stand at the edge and watch any kids with you. There is a plaque about a teen that died falling from the cliffs here.

Moss Plants, Columbia River Gorge

Continue on the main trail another .4 miles, crossing over a metal footbridge above 60-ft Oneonta Falls. Quickly you’ll arrive at a junction with the Oneonta Trail. Here you have a choice, you can lengthen your hike by turning and walking .9 miles up the trail to the beautiful Triple Falls. Or turn right and head downhill on the Oneonta Trail back to the Highway.

Columbia_River_Gorge

 

Small Rodent Skull in the Columbia River Gorge

Mushrooms

Follow the highway back to your car. Most of the walk has a path, but near Horsetail Falls you’ll need to walk on the highway to get back to your car.

Difficulty: This is a short hike, but given the climbing, I’d say this is a moderate hike.

Crowds and Parking: Available along the highway. We visited in early April when crowds were light. I believe it’s extremely busy in this region in the summer months and packed to crush on summer weekends.

Dogs: Allowed.

Maps: I got a paper map at Multnomah Falls Visitors Center, but don’t go there on a weekend as the crowds are insane.
Digital Map: https://gorgefriends.org/hike-the-gorge/horsetail-ponytail-triple-falls.html
Signage: Trail is clearly marked.

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