8/26/2017 – Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Creek

Date of Hike: 8/26/2017
Location of Hike: Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Cass, Jeff, Torren and Kirk
Start Time: 8:15 AM
End Time: 11:50 AM
Hike Distance: 4.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


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Hike description
This was a hike with the Boy Scouts – unfortunately, we only had one scout, and 4 adults, but it was still a GREAT outing. The idea was to hike the Oneonta gorge to the waterfall (which I had never done before) and then do a hike up to one of the other waterfalls, time permitting. We opted to leave very early to help beat the worst of the crowds – I’ve been told this place can be absolutely PACKED on a Saturday – so we left the school at a little after 7am on Saturday, getting to the gorge/creek a little after 8am. We could tell it was already somewhat busy. We parked, then headed down the road to the creek for the beginning of our adventure. Note that all of the photos of the gorge were kind of washed out – I think due to the poor lighting conditions of our early morning trip. The photos absolutely don’t do the place justice.

When we got to the creek, we were greeted by these somewhat ominous stairs, that led down to the creek:

We started down the creek, not having to get wet initially, but quickly came to the “Big logjam”:

Someone had rigged up a rope on one section, and there was already a line to get past this – even at 8:30am. We shortly made it past the logjam and started up the canyon:

It was amazing to see the number and variety of people attempting this “hike” (I put hike in quotes because it is a very short trip – the biggest obstacles are the logjam and the deep water – otherwise it is only about a half mile round trip to the falls). We saw young people, old people, babies, kids of all ages – all successfully navigating these obstacles.

After walking up the river, we got to the first deep spot – it was about thigh deep on this day (other days I guess it can get up to your chest):

We got to one other deep spot (which I didn’t take a photo of) that was slightly deeper, but it was about crotch deep for me. Very soon, the falls at end of gorge appeared:

Kirk and Torren kind of dared each other and ended up swimming at the base of the falls – the water was COLD! I ended up putting my jacket on because the air temperature was pretty cool due to the early morning, coupled with the cold water was making me very chilly. My jacket kept me warm enough to not shiver anymore.

The waterfall was not terribly energetic due to the low water flow (normal for this time of year), but it was a very soothing and beautiful waterfall – especially given the dramatic canyon it sits in. I took a short video of the falls:

We spent a few minutes enjoying the waterfall and then headed back out. It was kind of interesting that there was a young couple who were flying a drone near the waterfall. I assume they were taking video of the waterfall. You can see them here (including the drone) on this shot looking back north thru the canyon:

The trip back out was pretty uneventful, but the gorge was getting more crowded – much more crowded – there were a LOT of people headed in while we were headed out.

We went back to the van and dried off and changed shoes for the hike up to Triple Falls. I was surprised the whole trip in and out of the gorge only took us about an hour – I didn’t feel like we rushed things, but it is not very far. We headed out on the Oneonta trail and soon got to an overlook of Triple Falls (a little over a mile up the trail):

It was a beautiful waterfall. We encountered quite a few people coming down as we were coming up, including a huge group of girls – we weren’t sure what group they were with, but it had to be a group of 30 or more. And there were several other groups as well. I’m not used to seeing so many people on my hikes!

After taking in the view and getting a few pictures, we headed back to the trail and shortly came to a bridge over Oneonta creek above triple falls – I got this photo of the creek just above the falls:

We crossed the bridge and explored the other side a bit and then decided we needed to turn around due to time. We turned around and headed back down – getting back to the van a little before noon. By that point, the road and parking along the old highway had become crazytown – people everywhere. We headed back the old highway and when we got to Multnomah falls, the parking areas were full and there was probably a half to a mile long backup on the eastbound lane. All people waiting to get to Multnomah falls I guess. It was really a madhouse. Originally we were going to stop for ice cream at Multnomah falls, but due to the crowds, we decided to stop in Troutdale at Dairy Queen. It was a good call!

The ice cream was a great way to cap off a short, but very unique hike. I don’t do a lot of hiking in the gorge, but this was worth the crowds – I’m just glad we went early to avoid most of them.