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Triple Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
Triple Falls on Oneonta Creek (Tom Kloster)
Cascade penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus) on the Gorge/Oneonta Trail (bobcat)
View to Archer Mountain from the Gorge/Oneonta Trail (bobcat)
Before the Eagle Creek Fire, (Upper) Oneonta Falls was reached by a steep scramble path (Tom Kloster)
The lip of Triple Falls from the Oneonta Trail (bobcat)
The route of the Oneonta Trail as far as Triple Falls (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Oneonta TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Triple Falls
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Distance: 3.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 680 feet
  • High point: 650 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round except during winter storms
  • Family Friendly: Yes: but there are steep drop-offs
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

The hike to Triple Falls takes you up the Oneonta Gorge, almost always on a steep slope and, in a couple of places, prone to perennial slides. Once you get above the gorge itself, you'll be hiking in an area severely burned in the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. The fire raged along the creek and, at least until Triple Falls, there is no longer a forest canopy. The waterfall remains one of the most popular destinations in the Columbia River Gorge, and a new bridge was installed over Oneonta Creek in 2021 if you're interested in hiking farther up this wilderness valley (see the Larch Mountain via Oneonta Trail Hike).

Starting from the Oneonta Trailhead, the Oneonta Trail rises, paralleling the old highway and then crossing a slide gully that seems to reinvent itself every winter. When you reach the Oneonta-Gorge Trail Junction, make a left and traverse to get good views across the Columbia River to Archer Mountain. You'll recross the slide gully, passing below a flimsy perennial waterfall dripping over a mossy cliff. The trail drops below a basalt pinnacle, offering more views across the river. As you hike above a brushy bench, you'll notice a trail leading down which offers an overlook of the mouth of the Oneonta Gorge. Here, the main trail turns up the gorge, entering an area of scorched snags and views to the narrow cleft of the lower box canyon. After passing a trailside spring, you'll reach the junction where the Horsetail Falls Trail #438 heads downhill to the Middle Oneonta Falls and the first Oneonta Creek Bridge.

From the junction, the Oneonta Trail passes a wilderness permit box and a sign indicating entry to the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. A substantial seasonal waterfall appears across Oneonta Creek. You'll cross another slide gully, which may necessitate some care if it has been recently active. The trail climbs to a pair of switchbacks as it traverses high above the amphitheater of Upper Oneonta Falls, erroneously marked on topographical maps as Oneonta Falls. You can see the very top of these falls from the trail. (A short, sometimes sketchy scramble path used to angle down to the falls from the main trail just below the switchbacks, but this has disappeared since the Eagle Creek Fire.) Above the falls and across the creek, a steeply plunging stream disgorges into its own debris fan. You'll switchback up twice under a dripping rock face and traverse a steep slope high above Oneonta Creek. High above and across the creek, you can see the crest of Horsetail Ridge, totally scorched during the 2017 fire.

A short side trail breaks left and descends to a clifftop view of Triple Falls. Keep your kids and dogs in hand as you gaze across to the three plumes of the waterfall, with the hiker bridge crossing Oneonta Creek just above it.

You can angle left coming up from the viewpoint to rejoin the main trail. The Oneonta Trail will take you down almost to creek level and the new bridge (2021) across the creek. You may be able to reach the rocky verge of the creek from the east side of the bridge. While the bridge is a fine turnaround, if you have time (and energy), the trail continues at creek level for about another mile before rising towards Larch Mountain. This section of the trail has stretches of unburned canopy and offers quiet relief.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Fees, Regulations, Facilties, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit; wilderness rules apply

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Favorites: Trails & Tales by William L. Sullivan
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hike America: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Columbia River Gorge: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 35 Hiking Trails: Columbia River Gorge by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller

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.