Best time to visit Portland

Oneonta Gorge in Portland

A picturesque hike where the river is the trail

Best time: June–mid-October

Oneonta Gorge
Oneonta Gorge
Oneonta Gorge
Oneonta Gorge

The Oneonta Gorge is a gem of the Columbia River Gorge area and home to four scenic waterfalls. Lower Oneonta Falls, Middle Oneonta Falls, Upper Oneonta Falls, and Triple Falls make Oneonta Gorge hike one of a kind. The U.S. Forest Service considers Oneonta Gorge a botanical area thanks to unique aquatic and woodland vegetation. Twenty-five million-year-old basalt formations boast some mosses, ferns, and lichens that grow only here. Therefore lower gorge has been set as a restricted area to be preserved as a natural habitat, and Lower Oneonta Falls can only be seen if you walk a hiking trail upstream from the creek's outlet.

Oneonta Gorge Trail is a 4.9-mile long and is rated as moderate. It features elevation gain of 1,633 ft (498 m) and is best used from June through October. This season is the best time to visit the Oneonta Gorge as the weather conditions are most favorable. If you want to hike upstream, in late summer and early fall the water levels are low enough to make the path walkable. Hikers have to be prepared to walk over logs, climb through rocks and get into cold water. In the end, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views.

In 2017-2018 hiking seasons, Oneonta Gorge Trail was closed due to flash floods and the Eagle Creek Fire. So check Forest Service website before planning your trip.

Oneonta Gorge is quite close to Portland, some 40-minute drive from the city. The trailhead is located off the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oneonta.

Practical info

What are the water levels like in Oneonta Gorge?

During June until October, visitors can usually enjoy the low water levels in Oneonta path, and wade through. The water levels can increase late in the year during times where rainfall increases. Hiking in the area may include many obstacles, such as logs and rocks on which hikers must climb, and the cold water, so visitors should prepare accordingly. Visitors are advised to hike in a group and watch out for floods, even during the best season in the gorge. Show more

What is the best time to visit Oneonta Gorge?

One can visit Oneonta Gorge anytime during June till mid-October, as it has the best weather conditions with low water levels, so walking upstream is possible. The fall season is particularly special, and tourists can revel in autumn hues. However, during rainfall, the water levels can rise. Travelers are advised to check trail conditions due to abrupt water level changes and potential risks. Hence, they should be cautious while visiting this gorge and not take any risks. Show more

What are the unique plants found in Oneonta Gorge?

Oneonta Gorge boasts of unique vegetation that grows in water and woodlands, which is classified as a rare gem. The area has mosses, lichens, and ferns that have been thriving for twenty-five million years and are exclusive to this location. The Lower Oneonta Falls has been restricted to tourists to preserve it as a natural habitat. US forest services have declared this the botanical area to protect the vegetation. Tourists are requested to protect the environment and avoid littering and damaging the ecosystem. Show more

What happened to the Oneonta Gorge Trail in 2017-2018?

Oneonta Gorge Trail remained closed during the 2017-2018 hiking seasons after encountering flash floods and the Eagle Creek Fire. Finally, in the year 2019, the trail resumed operations. Tourists are requested to check the trail conditions before visiting the area. The area is prone to fire hazards and flash floods, so visitors must be prepared accordingly. Since conditions are unpredictable, tourists should remain alert and cautious. Visitors must make some plans and ensure they consider the weather forecast before visiting the gorge. Show more

How far is Oneonta Gorge from Portland?

Oneonta Gorge is a 40-minute drive from Portland, and tourists can easily reach it by car. They can park their vehicles at the trailhead, situated on the Historic Columbia River Highway. One should note that the bridge to Hassalo Road is unavailable due to a collapse in January 2018 after heavy rainfall. Visitors should keep in mind that trailhead parking spaces are limited, and hence, they should try visiting during weekdays or arrive early to avoid overcrowding during weekends. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin