Oneonta Gorge   29 comments

Oneonta Gorge is a lush slot canyon in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area.

Oneonta Gorge is a narrow and verdant canyon in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area.

This is a lovely canyon that lies not far east of Portland (Oregon) in the Columbia River Gorge.  Being lush, verdant and wet, it offers the kind of scenery and a feeling that is quintessentially Pacific Northwest.   It is Oneonta Gorge, and to explore it requires a bit of an adventurous spirit.

To get there, drive east of Portland into the Columbia River Gorge along Interstate 84.  Keep going past Multnomah Falls and take the next exit (#35, Ainsworth).  Loop around and head back west, turning left at the stop sign on the Historic Highway toward Multnomah Falls.  In fact, an alternative is to travel the Historic Highway all the way out from Corbett (see previous post) past Multnomah Falls and on to Oneonta.  If you take the freeway, all you need to do is drive a couple miles back west along the Historic Highway.  You’ll first come to Horsetail Falls on the left.  Keep going (or stop and take a photo!) for another quarter mile and you’ll see a small tunnel off to the left.  The road does not go through the tunnel.  Cross over Oneonta Creek on a small bridge and pull off at the wide spot just past the tunnel.

Logs are swept down Oneonta Gorge in Oregon during heavy winter rains.

Logs are swept down Oneonta Gorge during heavy winter rains.

Walk back towards the tunnel and you will see a small set of stairs that drops down to Oneonta Creek.  Depending on the time of year, you will either be able to hike up the creek a short way without getting wet or you will quickly get your feet wet.  In either case, in order to proceed very far up the narrow gorge, you’ll need to scramble over a large log jam (be very careful) and then wade up the creek.  Bring old sneakers and wool socks with either shorts or quick-drying pants.  It’s cool in the canyon so warm clothes are a good idea.

The walls of Oneonta Gorge in Oregon are covered in moss and other plants that are kept wet by the constant water seeping from above.

The walls of Oneonta Gorge in Oregon are covered in moss and other plants that are kept wet by the constant water seeping from above.

You can wade up the gorge only about a half-mile before you come to a waterfall, which will halt your progress.  The walls along the sides of this narrow canyon are covered with moss and ferns.  During the wet season (winter and early Spring) you will likely not get all the way to the falls, and you can even be stopped at the far side of the log jam in high water.  In hot summer months you will be able to wade all the way up.  But since this is a very popular place during the warm season now, definitely go during the week.  Better yet go up when the weather is cooler and you will probably have the place to yourself.

The Oneonta Gorge in Oregon narrows to a point where not much light makes it down to the creek bottom.

The Oneonta Gorge in Oregon narrows to a point where not much light makes it down to the creek bottom.

Over the past week I’ve gone up twice.  The first time the water was much too high to continue past the log jam, but on my second visit I saw that the water had dropped quite a bit.  So I waded upstream in the icy water (brrr!).  The last section to the waterfall passes the narrowest and deepest part of the creek, so that was as far as I got.  If you were to swim, you could get all the way.  But it would be a cold swim!

The narrows of Oneonta Gorge in Oregon were created over uncounted years by the creek's frequent flooding.

The narrows of Oneonta Gorge in Oregon were created over uncounted years by the creek’s frequent flooding.

In Onenta Gorge, Oregon, the approach to its waterfall is guarded by deep water in spring's high water flows.

In Onenta Gorge, Oregon, the approach to its waterfall is guarded by deep water in spring’s high water flows.

Hope you enjoyed the photos of this incredible canyon.  I’m sorry these images are not available for free download.  The versions here are much too small for use anyway.  Just click on any you might be interested in to gain access to the high-resolution versions.  Then click “add image to cart” to go to a tabbed price list.  Your image won’t be added to the cart until you see the prices.  Thanks for your interest and cooperation.  See ya next time!

The Columbia River flows west toward the sea in deep evening as the moon shines above.

On the way back from Oneonta Gorge, wet feet didn’t keep me from stopping along the way and admiring the evening glow on the Columbia River with the moon and Orion’s Belt glittering above.

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29 responses to “Oneonta Gorge

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  1. Your photos are a piece of heaven! I wish I was a little younger to do this!!!

  2. Pingback: Oneonta Gorge Tunnel - Pacific Northwest Photoblog

  3. I love your photos. In what week of the month did you visit this gorge?

    • Thank you very much! It’s been awhile, last July I think. But I’m coming back to PDX today. So I’ll see it again soon!

    • But some of these were captured when the water is higher in springtime, and my favorite time to shoot it is in late winter/early spring at highest flow, or even in ice in winter. In July when I visited you could go all the way to the falls without swimming, so I just did it with no camera so I could climb up and jump into the pool below. It was so refreshing!

      • I actually visited two days ago! I’m originally from OC California and I’ve been planning this visit for a month now. I was nervous that the water would be too high since it was early spring and we would wouldn’t be able to get through even over the logs; however, we got through all the way to the end. We did have to swim in the snow melt water to get to the very end, but it was so worth it! Thank you for sharing your post on this, it inspired me to visit as well!

        • Awesome Ann, and your report has inspired me to go up for a swim to the end too. I just happen to be around here now, and spring is my favorite time in the Gorge, and the whole PNW!

  4. Nice! Very nice.

  5. Fantastic info with Superb images

  6. Linked your blog in my Blipfoto https://www.polaroidblipfoto.com/entry/2028194382657619376 and have now subscribed. Gorgeous!

  7. Wow this is amazing, what colours and format, love it. How can I do a blog like this?

  8. Where you in or on the river when you took the gorge(ous) images?

  9. Stunning photos. I have started dreaming of travelling to this wonderful and peaceful area……..

  10. These are magnificent photos. Thanks for sharing such stunning beauty. 🙂

  11. So glad I stumbled upon your blog. My wife and I are going to hike up to Triple Falls this week and have wondered about wading up Oneonta Creek but I’ve been afraid because I don’t want to harm by DSLR. You obviously have done it. What do you think? Your photos are astounding and really makes me want to go…

    • Thanks for the visit. Go for it, the water is low right now. You’ll need to scramble over a log jam though, so have both hands free and you should be fine. You might even be able to get up to the falls at the end if the water is low enough.

  12. Good thing that you were not too tired to take the last photo. It is fabulous.

  13. Wonderful. Thanks for the information. I have never been to this gorge, even though I’ve been through the Columbia Gorge many times. I think a trip is in order.

  14. i am nice to this photo. ‘al

  15. I think that Oneonta gorge is a lovely place. I have made the hike to the falls just once, but would love to go back again if my knees would let me.

  16. Beyond stunning!

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