The Columbia River Gorge is home to countless view points, hikes and recreational opportunities that make it one of the most spectacular places in the Pacific Northwest. Even in this incredible environment, the Oneonta Gorge stands out as a unique and exceptional area.
The hike up this narrow basalt chasm begins at the Historical Columbia River Highway and ends only a half-mile upstream at Lower Oneonta Falls. Many might consider the waterfall to be the highlight of the trip, and it is beautiful, but what sets Oneonta apart is the journey there. The hike upstream includes some navigation over and around river rocks, with shallow splashing here and there, and potentially a chilly but refreshing crossing through some waist-deep water. In other words, be ready to get wet!
August and September are perfect months to visit – water temperatures are a bit higher and the creek's levels are a bit lower. Before nature will allow you to pass into this special realm, however, you will have to cross over an enormous pile-up of fallen trees and debris simply known as the log jam. Venturing over the log jam is certainly not for everyone, and many have suffered serious injury and even drowned in their attempts to climb over this often extremely slippery hazard. Take it slow and step carefully regardless of when you visit.
A slow approach also gives you time to appreciate the ferns, mosses and lichens that cling to the gorge walls. Many of these plants grow only in the Columbia River Gorge. To protect these plants and the other unique aquatic plants that grow here, the Forest Service has designated the Oneonta Gorge a botanical area. Explore, be safe and enjoy!
Caution: Due to cold water, high water levels and slippery hazards, passage into Oneonta Gorge is not advised from November through July.