Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Horsetail Falls

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Horsetail Falls (Jeff Statt)
Stone architecture near the base of the falls (Jeff Statt)


Horsetail Falls is one of the most scenic points right along the Historic Columbia River Highway, making it a popular spot for tourists and sightseers. Just 34 miles east of Portland, the falls drop 176 feet in a single horsetail formation into a roadside pool. It's common for spray from the falls to blow over the highway and onto passing cars. It's also very common to find a patch of ice on the road and trees in the winter months.

Construction of the Columbia River Highway began in the spring of 1913 - at the time considered a great engineering feat. Chief engineer Samuel C. Lancaster put a priority on providing easy access to areas like Horsetails Falls, but not at the cost of disgracing "what God had put there". The highway made Horsetail Falls a significant tourist attraction, being the subject of photographs and postcards dating back to the early 1920s. It remains a popular location to this day.

The stonework at the falls, however, is from a later time. The rock was recycled from the demolition of the Rocky Butte Jail in 1984 - 1986, in order to make way for the I-205 freeway.

More Links


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.