Oneonta Gorge is located East of Multnomah Falls, just off the Columbia River Highway; several miles East of Portland, Oregon.
The hiking trail is actually the creek and only a short half mile at that but it ends at a beautiful waterfall and the hike there is arguably even more fun and beautiful than the surprise at the end.
But to get started you first have to crawl/climb/scamper over a large log jam that blocks the canyon. The jog jam was much larger than I expected and quite slippery. If you make a wrong step you could easily slip and fall, landing on other logs or even the rocks below. Since it was wet and slippery when I was there I decided not to take my young kids with me; they stayed behind with my wife and explored the area north of the log jam. Oh well, too bad for them, this trip would be made by just my brother and me!
Despite the slipperiness, climbing over the jog jam was actually pretty fun, if a bit nerve wracking. I actually felt a small sense of accomplishment once I made it past. Maybe more like a sense of astonishment that I didn’t slip and break a leg.
After you make it over the log jam you simply hike up the gorge. Since the water is the trail, you will get wet and you will enjoy every minute of it!
Even though it was early June, the weather was a cool 70 degrees or so and the water was freezing cold and after a only a few minutes I couldn’t feel my feet. This part I wasn’t enjoying so much. I hadn’t expected it to be that cold but you get used to it pretty quick. I imagine if the weather had been warmer it would have been a great way to cool off.
For most of the hike the water was ankle deep, with a few parts getting deeper and then there is an infamous section of the creek that is chest deep. Not just chest deep but freezing cold, breath stealing,and heart stopping. There is no way across or around this section of the creek without getting in the deep water. That was a bit hard to do since the water was so cold but you have to do it if you want to get to the waterfall at the end of the gorge.
It was a wonderful hike and while we were in the gorge it seemed like time itself had stopped.
When we got to the waterfall we just sat there for a while, taking it all in and enjoying the lush and vibrant gorge. I didn’t want to leave and thought about living in the gorge but since I hadn’t brought any food, I could only stay for so long.
Like the old adage says, photos don’t do it justice and they don’t. When you’re in there it feels primordial, like you’ve stepped back in time. I was extremely fortunate that no one was there but my family so we had the whole place to ourselves, making the journey even more magical.
If you’re ever in the area, do stop by. It won’t take long and it is amazing and well worth getting a little wet for.
Here’s some video I took when we were there: