The Columbia River Gorge was yet another place that once I saw pictures of it, I just knew I had to go see it for myself. The gorge area is right outside Portland, Oregon and is filled with moss covered rocks and more waterfalls than you could ever believe. It houses the famous Multnomah Falls and so many more, but the main trail I wanted to go on was the Oneonta Gorge which leads to a hidden waterfall.
We had mentioned wanting to take this trip to our friends Katie and Max and they expressed that they would come with, so we planned our trip for Memorial Day weekend and the four of us took off! We flew into Portland, Oregon and spent a little bit of time in Portland visiting the REI and of course the Deschutes Brewery and then drove to the Wyeth campground where we set up our tents and hammocks. The campground was even beautiful featuring a thick lush forest with trails right outside your campsite. We spent the next two days hiking as many trails to see as many waterfalls as possible. We saw Ponytail Falls, Triple Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls, Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls, Elowah Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Oneonta Falls.
Multnomah Falls is by far the most famous, but it is so over populated with tourists it completely ruined it for me. There are so many people crowded around the bottom and there are so many people up on the bridge that it took away from the beauty. If you wanted to see this waterfall at ideal time for taking pictures as far as lighting and no people, you would have to come at sunrise. There is also a huge restaurant right next to it which takes away from the beauty of it and the nature around it in my opinion. As much as it ruined the falls for Brady and I you can be certain we still indulged in ice cream cones that a stand nearby was selling haha!
We also ran around the town of Cascade Locks which was right near our campground and the gorge. They had this awesome brewery right on the water which had great food, craft brews, and ciders. Brady and I are huge beer snobs, so whenever we get to visit breweries and try different craft beers we take advantage!
The main and most important trail for me was the Oneonta trail leading to the hidden waterfall. I fell in love with picutres of this trail because the trail is through a small gorge with huge mossy cliffs on either side of you and you have to hike over huge log piles and through waist high freezing water to get to the waterfall. I liked the idea of having to work for the beautiful sight at the end, instead of pulling up in your car in a parking lot and taking a few steps to see it, such as Multnomah Falls. Since you have to work for it, it also means less tourists and crowding. Much to my dismay when we reached the trailhead there was a park ranger at the entrance and yellow tape blocking the entrance. My heart sank as I asked the ranger why the trail was closed. He stated there had been flash flooding recently and that some hikers had gotten injured. I was devastated as this was the main reason I wanted to visit the area. I started plotting ways to sneak inside when we saw two hikers running out past the guard. We stopped them and asked how they got in and they said they snuck past the ranger at one point when he stepped away from this post.
The boys were okay with passing on the trail, but I wasn’t going to give up so easily and luckily Katie was the best cheerleader and together we plotted to get up before sunrise the next day and try sneaking in hoping the ranger wouldn’t be at his post yet. The next day we got to the trail head just at the sun was starting to come up and much to my excitement, no ranger. The boys, in worry of missing out, had gotten up with Katie and I and had tagged along. We all sprinted in worried a ranger would catch us at any minute and rain the beginning of the trail that was visible to anyone from above. We then reached huge log piles in the water that we had to climb over. This trail if you didn’t know this wouldn’t seem like a trail at all. There’s only a trail for a small portion and then you are in the stream and the water is your trail. We climbed over huge wet log piles slipping all the way. Most of the way the water was only ankle deep, but when you get further back into the gorge there are portions is is waist deep and there’s no way around it. The water was so cold, but so worth it! We kept hiking back until the GORGEous hidden Oneonta Waterfall came into view. We were all so happy we risked it and went through the cold water because the waterfall and trail through the gorge was just as beautiful as all the pictures I had seen that drew me to the area.
Running around trails and waterfalls and just laying around the campgrounds in our hammocks was so much fun and we had an absolute blast with Katie and Max. Katie and I even hiked some trails around our campground and those were even disgustingly beautiful! They ran through lush forest and led to a huge wooden bridge that crossed a rocky stream. We formed so many inside jokes, mostly about Big Foot and Herman the Sturgeon. This trip was only one month after my first trip to the PNW when I visited Washington and it only solidified my love for the PNW.