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Bell Creek Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Bell Creek (Jeff Statt)
The Bell Creek area is full of old cedars like this one. (Jeff Statt)
Location of the Oneonta Creek crossing (Jeff Statt)
Crowd sourced GPS "average" (aiwetir)
  • Start point: Oneonta TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Oneonta-Bell Creek Trail Junction
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Dogbone (Out to a loop and back)
  • Distance: 17 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 3330 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: May-Oct
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Crowded to Triple Falls

Contents

Hike Description

This hike visits some of the best stands of old growth in the Columbia River Gorge. You'll visit low level old growth and higher level old growth hemlock forests. There's a couple of waterfalls, creekside climbs and a tricky ford of Oneonta Creek.

Oneonta Trail #424 starts climbing gently to a junction with Gorge Trail #400. The trail climbs to a shelf above the Columbia River where a side trail leads to viewpoints. Continuing on, the trail clings the the side of Oneonta Canyon, high above hidden Oneonta Gorge below. Soon, there's a junction with Horsetail Falls Trail #438. Triple Falls comes next, followed by a bridge over Oneonta Creek. The trails then follows the east side of the creek to another bridge over Oneonta Creek. There's another trail junction, this time with Horsetail Creek Trail #425.

For this hike, turn left on Horsetail Creek trail and come quickly to the Oneonta Creek Ford. The ford is handled best in times of low water. It's better to make the loop in this direction, so you can choose a different path without being stranded. After crossing the creek, you'll switchback up like crazy for at least 20 switchbacks. After 2.3 miles, you'll turn right on Bell Creek Trail #459.

Bell Creek Trail continues the climb. Soon you'll enter what is arguably the best stand of old-growth in the entire Columbia Gorge area. Traversing across the upper basin of Oneonta Canyon through stands of huge hemlocks and firs, you'll cross several open scree fields, and navigate spring soaked wetlands ringed by towering cedars. After 3 miles and two footbridges, you'll come to a junction with the Oneonta Trail #424.

Turn right here and start down the mountain. You'll climb a bit and pass a couple more trail junctions. Keep to Trail #424 and soon you'll drop off the east side of Franklin Ridge back into Oneonta Canyon. Several viewpoints along the way allow you to look out across the canyon and back to your route. Continue down the Oneonta Trail to your car.

Maps

Fees and regulations

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

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Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.