The Oneonta Gorge hike is one of the best hikes in the Scenic Columbia Gorge. Keep reading to see pictures of this beautiful hike and learn tips for hiking it.

Oneonta Gorge hike waterfallHiking the Oneonta Gorge

One of the most photographed hikes in Oregon is the Oneonta Gorge in the scenic Columbia Gorge area. It is an incredible hike, but somewhat difficult. You have to climb over rocks and tree stumps and wade through water most of the time. This is a river hike and I suggest you do not take a pet.

  • The hike is only 0.6 miles, 1.2 miles round trip.
  • Due to congestion where there are obstacles to climb over the hike will take at least an hour and a half. The day we went that is how long it took us and it was somewhat crowded. On a more crowded day, it could easily take 2 hours since you have to wait for people to pass.
  • You will get wet. If you happen to slip you will be totally soaked.
  • Waterproof cameras only. The same goes for cell phones!
  • Do not carry other items with you like a water bottle. You will need both hands free when climbing over logs.
  • It is cold in the gorge and the water is freezing. Hike it on a day that is at least 80 degrees.img 0559

All of my photos were taken Memorial Weekend in May 2017. This will give you an idea of the water levels. According to one of our friends, hiking with us, the water level was higher in May than it was in September.

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Hiking Oneonta Gorge with Kids

If you are taking children on this hike there are some things to consider.

  • Children should be a minimum of 4’6″. There are times that the water came up above my waist and my youngest son could barely touch.
  • Kids should not carry anything. They will need both of their hands free to grab onto various stumps and rocks to help them climb over obstacles along the way.
  • Tennis shoes are a must for kids. No flip flops, absolutely no bare feet, and to be honest, even water shoes are not good enough. They will need good shoes. Find an old pair of tennis shoes and have them wear those. And yes, the shoes will get totally and completely soaked but when you are climbing over piled up logs and walking down a stream you will be glad you have them. 
  • No picnicking on this trail. There is nowhere you would want to sit down and enjoy a picnic.
  • Have towels waiting for you in the car.
  • Have boys wear their swim trunks instead of shorts.

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Oneonta Gorge Tunnel

Oneonta Gorge Tunnel

The entrance to the hike if coming from the south is a cave which means you basically walk through a tunnel to enter the hike. img 0551 1img 0557 1

Here you can get an idea of why things get backed up along the hike. To get over some boulders and trees there is a narrow area where everyone climbs up. You basically have to wait your turn because people are trying to either hike out of the Oneonta Gorge or hike into it. So, you have people going both directions in a small space. img 0564

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How to Get to Oneonta Gorge 

From Portland, OR: Travel east on Interstate 84 to Bridal Veil, Exit #28.  Follow the off-ramp to the intersection with the Historic Highway and turn left (heading east).  Travel about 6 miles to the parking area, which is a small pullout on the south side of the highway. 

From Hood River, OR: Travel west on Interstate 84 to Ainsworth, Exit #35.  Travel west on the Historic Highway about 1.5 miles to the parking area, which is a small pullout on the south side of the highway

There is a parking lot nearby just off the Historic Columbia River Highway. We were able to park easily.

Oneonta Gorge Waterfall

Oneonta Gorge Waterfall coming down off of Larch Mountain


All in all, Oneonta Gorge is one hike every nature lover should have on their bucket list! It’s a great way to get away from your day to day life and escape into the beautiful Oregon wilderness. The unique beauty of the area will leave you breathless. Regardless, if you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity, visiting Oneonta Gorge is a great idea that is well worth the effort for any outdoor enthusiast.img 0571

Our family has done many hikes out in the Scenic Columbia Gorge. Here are some of our favorite family hikes:

Wahclella Falls

Punch Bowl Falls

11 Kid-Friendly Hikes in the Columbia Gorge river area including Fairy Falls, Pony Tail falls, Wahkeena Falls, and more! 

When Will Oneonta Gorge Reopen?

The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire burned through this area and the hike is still currently closed. I have checked off and on to see when this trail will re-open. As of now, there is no future date set. I checked most recently September 2020. I know they’ve had a rock slide out there, but unsure if it damaged the trail. Multnomah Falls is open to the top, Bridal Veil is open and Angel’s rest is open.