Oneonta Gorge

I didn’t realize how much I missed hiking until stepping into the Gorge after two weeks away from the trail. I think I actually breathed a sigh of relief.


Paul’s friend Ben came to visit us for the weekend from Michigan. Can we pause to reflect on that for just a moment? A friend… not a family member or anyone else who is legally obligated to spend time with us… came to visit! Ben told Paul when we first moved that he would be the first friend to come visit. Guess he was right! Who’s next?? πŸ™‚


We had a great time (hopefully Ben did too) gallivanting around the city for most of the weekend; bike ride to the A-Crop (I did not partake in this particular event), dinner in Directors Park, VQ brunch, farmers market, organic beer fest (with about 3,000,000 other people), Voodoo Donut, and of course, the Columbia River Gorge.


We decided to hit the Oneonta Gorge, starting at the Horsetail Falls trail, and then meeting up with trail 400, then the Oneonta Trail which took us up to Triple Falls, then back down to the 400 which took us the rest of the way down. So it’s not really a loop, not really an out-and-back… more of a wishbone shape. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, although we had the GPS on, it did not get a good track (weak signal maybe). So, distance and elevation are estimates based on guide books we use, and the map is just pulled from Google (and then crudely marked up with Jing). Not at all accurate. But you get the idea.


Oneonta Gorge trail(s)
Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side)
Total hike distance: +4 miles (not including wading around the creek)
Total elevation gain: At least 500 feet, probably more with all the ups and downs on the trial


This is a sad representation.



If you don’t already know, summer just arrived in Portland last week (literally and figuratively). We’ve been dealing with unrelenting clouds and rain for months, but last week, this strange giant glowing orb in the sky made its debut. So what do you get on the first actual nice weekend of the summer, on one of the more popular and easy trails in the Gorge? Trails so crowded you are literally tripping over other people and kids and dogs and Grandmas on the way. Okay… it wasn’t too bad, but much more crowded than we are used to. I kid you not, there was actually one lady wearing a sundress and fancy high-heeled strappy sandals hiking with her family. She didn’t make it as far as we did, but still, it made me feel like a pansy in my cushy hiking shoes and synthetic fabrics. πŸ™‚



Getting our start on the trail


It doesn’t take long for a payoff on this hike, as Ponytail Falls (aka “Upper Horsetail Falls”) is about .3 miles in. Very close.Β  So also, very crowded. I couldn’t get any waterfall-only shots as there were people running around everywhere. Will have to get there earlier next time.



Ponytail Falls (Paul and Ben are across the way)


This guy walked in front of the camera at the last second!! Can we pretend he’s not there?


The rocky cavern under the falls


A short distance later, we came to Middle Oneonta Falls.



Middle Oneonta Falls


Making our way


The sun was beating down, so after what seemed like ages we reached Triple Falls. We’ve been here several times, but I’m always amazed by how cool it is.Β  Unfortunately, direct sunlight is no bueno for taking waterfall shots, so it’s a little washed out.



Triple Falls


When you hike past Triple Falls, there is a bridge that crosses the creek behind the top of the falls (you can see it in the picture). After crossing this bridge, there are several large boulders and downed trees along the water that are perfect lunch (beer) spots. I could spend all day here.



Break time


The little doggies we shared the space with.


Looking downstream at the top of Triple Falls


Looking back upstream at the bridge we crossed over


On the way back down we came across lots of cool wildflowers.



Tiger Lily


Phlox


Red Columbine


Showy Penstemon


After we got back down to the highway and our car, we changed into sandals and spent a little time wading up the Oneonta Creek. I can’t believe we’ve been in the Gorge a gazillion times and never done this. Oneonta Creek runs through the Oneonta Gorge (natch), and near the road is pretty shallow. There are lots of boulders and trees and little rocky beachy areas to hang out in, mini swimming holes for the kiddies and dogs to go swimming in, and beautiful scenery all around. You can go as far or not far as you like.



There is a small stairway down and to the right to drop down to the water


In the creek


You can also wade all the way up the creek and climb over a log jam to a view of the Lower Oneonta Falls. It was still crazy busy there, I only had flimsy flips flops on and Buckley can be a handful around crowds – so we decided to skip the climb over the logs. We will definitely go all the way next time, as the lower falls are supposed to be beautiful.



Approaching the log jam


The boys up on the boulder – that’s about as far as we went


Buckley was loving it!


Looking back downstream


Off to the side we found a little rocky beach area with a pocket deep enough for Buckley to swim. Copious amounts of fetch ensued.



Maybe copious amounts of beer too…


And now, an absurd number of pictures of Buckley. πŸ™‚



He will not let that stick out of his sight


Shake!


Again?


Heheeeee!




Buckley even got to meet another doggie friend who was willing to share his tennis ball.



Buddies!


BRRRGRBLRBLRGLRBLRRGL


A little game of tug for good measure


Looking back up the creek


While a relatively easy hike, it’s loaded with scenery and fun stuff to do and doesn’t take up your whole day (unless you want it to).

To celebrate the long weekend, we are heading out tomorrow morning to Shellrock Lake area for a two-night backpacking trip. Report soon, I promise not to wait until next Friday night to post!

Happy 4th everyone!

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