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Nesmith-Oneonta Traverse Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Closed Hike. Some or all of this hike has been closed by a governing body and hikers may be liable for fines or even arrest. At least part of this route may be dangerous and hard to follow, or it may cross areas with sensitive plant life or wildlife habitat. Trailkeepers of Oregon does not endorse or recommend hiking this route. When restrictions are lifted, this notice will be removed.
TKO put tools to trail here.png
View from Nesmith Point (Jeff Statt)
Leaning outhouse on Nesmith Point (Jeff Statt)
  • Start point: John B Yeon TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Oneonta Trailhead
  • Trail log : Trail Log
  • Hike type: Point to point (Car Shuttle)
  • Distance: 14.1 miles one way
  • Elevation gain: 3800 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult due to elevation gain and length
  • Seasons: Apr-Oct
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

NOTICE: This trail is closed until further notice because of damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Please check the list of Columbia Gorge trail closures before you plan for a hike.

This hike starts the same as the Nesmith Point Hike but then goes down a different trail to a different trailhead. You'll need a second car or someone to pick you up.

This hike starts in the John B Yeon State Park parking lot. This place might be the highest theft lot in the gorge. Leave your valuable things at home! You'll start up the trail, pass an old water tank, switchback and come to a Elowah Falls-Nesmith Point Trail Junction]] trail junction, all in the first 50 steps. Take the right trail fork, marked as the Nesmith Point Trail #428.

The first mile of the trail doesn't climb too steeply. You'll pass a former trail junction with the Gorge Trail #400, headed west. This trail was completely wiped out by a 1996 landslide. Some books say it's gone permanently, some say it will be rebuilt. You'll have to look for yourself. This hike continues up the Nesmith Point Trail and here we really mean UP! Switchbacks are the norm here, and their pretty steep ones too. You'll get several viewpoints served up as rewards for your climbing. You'll be able to see Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens and most of the Washington side of the gorge, as well as good looks at the huge 1996 landslide that started from Nesmith and closed the freeway for days.

After about two miles of heavy climbing, things get a little easier after you reach the rim at Corky's Corner. You'll traverse above the gently sloping McCord Creek bowl towards the top of the ridge, still climbing gradually, until you reach the Nesmith Point Trail-Nesmith Point Road Junction about five miles from the trailhead. Turn right on the road and hike about 500 feet to the end of the road and the location of an old fire lookout above the steep red cinder slope at Nesmith Point. Trees have grown up here, but you'll still have a good view to the east. For a better view continue down a small path past the lookout and the old lookout outhouse. A short distance down the slope, there's a great lookout with a view of the entire gorge. Soak in the sites and return the way you came to the old road. Hike down the road past the Nesmith Point Trail junction another 500 feet or so to the Horsetail Creek Trail-Nesmith Point Road Junction. Turn right and head west on the the Horsetail Creek Trail #425.

You'll pass another viewpoint of the big slide and a view of St. Peter's Dome. After 1.7 miles, you'll come to an unsigned junction with Rock of Ages Trail. Continue west on the Horsetail Creek Trail and enjoy a slightly downhill pattern for a ways. In the next mile, you'll cross 3 forks of Horsetail Creek, (East, Middle and West) all through simple fords. You'll meet the Bell Creek Trail #459, which heads off to the left into some great old growth. Then, you'll start switchbacking steeply down toward Oneonta Creek. There's a side trail to a viewpoint of Larch Mountain after the sixth switchback. After two small creek crossings and over 20 switchbacks, you'll come to Oneonta Creek Ford. There's no bridge here and this can be a difficult ford in the winter or spring, when water levels are high. After the ford, climb 50 feet to a junction with the Oneonta Trail #424.

Turn right and head down Oneonta Creek. You'll cross Oneonta Creek two more times, but your dry feet will be happy with the bridges. The trail continues past Triple Falls to a junction with Horsetail Falls Trail #438. Continue straight here down the last mile. Turn right to stay on the #424 at a junction with Gorge Trail #400. At the Oneonta Trailhead, climb into your second car and go fetch your first.


GPS track

Fees, Regulations, etc. =

  • None

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge, by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
  • 35 Hiking Trails, Columbia River Gorge, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge - 1st and 2nd Editions, by Russ Schneider
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan

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.