Horsetail Falls - Ponytail Falls - Triple Falls, Horsetail Falls Trailhead, Portland - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Horsetail Falls - Ponytail Falls - Triple Falls - 3.9 miles

Horsetail Falls Trailhead

The Horsetail Falls Trail slips behind Ponytail Falls

The Horsetail Falls Trail slips behind Ponytail Falls

Round-Trip Length: 3.9 miles
Start-End Elevation: 42 - 657' (elevation at bridge over Triple Falls)
Elevation Change: +615' net elevation gain (+1,145' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Horsetail Falls - Ponytail Falls - Triple Falls - 3.9 Miles Round-Trip

The Horsetail Falls Trail joins the Oneonta Trail on a 3.9 mile out-and-back route that includes Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, Oneonta Falls and Triple Falls. Few trails in the gorge pack as much scenery in to such a short distance.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

This moderate hike begins at Horsetail Falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway and climbs to a large tunnel carved behind Ponytail Falls. It continues to a high bridge over Oneonta Falls, then splits left on the Oneonta Trail to Triple Falls.

The following description and distances run to the bridge over Oneonta Creek, just above Triple Falls:

The trail begins at Horsetail Falls, a 214' single tier fall which embodies its horsetail shape. Steep switchbacks sweep across fern-covered basalt walls that level and arc through a large tunnel carved behind Ponytail Falls (.4 miles : 310').

The trail passes right behind this archetypal 'plunge' waterfall, which spills approx 88' over a pronounced alcove. Slip behind the falls and resume travel in a notably lush and diverse forest.

The trail trends down before dropping sharply on switchbacks to a bridge over the top of (middle) Oneonta Falls and Oneonta Gorge (1.05 miles : 253').

The bridge provides an excellent view of the falls, and down the canyon narrows. Switchbacks continue up the west bank to the split for Triple Falls on the Oneonta Trail (1.25 miles : 345'). 

The Oneonta Trail steepens considerably over the gorge to a crest, then rises on rugged, undulating intervals to an outcrop with terrific views of Triple Falls. Here Oneonta Creek is split into three distinct segments and drops approximately 64' over basaltic bedrock.

Travel moderates past the outcrop to a long bridge over Oneonta Creek (1.95 miles : 657'), a fine turnaround point with easy creek access. Be mindful of narrow, potentially unstable drop-offs along the Oneonta Trail, and particularly from the main Triple Falls viewing area.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N45 35.407 W122 04.097 — 0.0 miles : Horsetail Falls Trailhead
  • N45 35.422 W122 03.929 — .2 miles : Gorge Trail split
  • N45 35.311 W122 04.135 — .4 miles : Tunnel leading to Ponytail Falls
  • N45 35.118 W122 04.398 — 1.05 miles : Cross bridge over Oneonta Falls
  • N45 35.160 W122 04.422 — 1.2 miles : Oneonta Trail split
  • N45 34.803 W122 04.404 — 1.75 miles : Rugged, undulating climb
  • N45 34.675 W122 04.316 — 1.95 miles : Bridge over Oneonta Creek

Worth Noting

  • Be mindful of steep, narrow and potentially unstable drop-offs along the Oneonta Trail. Keep children and pets under control at all times.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • Group size is limited to 12 individuals or any combination of people and stock.
  • Camp in established sites whenever possible. Sites are first come, first served. Some may be closed for restoration
  • Bury human waste 6-8" deep, at least 100' from any trail or water source.
  • Campfires - Columbia River Gorge NSA: Campfires are permitted in the CRGNSA, with potential seasonal and area-specific restrictions. Up-to-date rules are posted at the trailhead and along the trail. 
  • Campfires - Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Campfires are not permitted June 1 - September 15 (peak season) along the Eagle Creek Trail from the wilderness boundary to the Eagle-Tanner Trail. Fires are permitted from September 16 - May 31 unless otherwise posted.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • No fee or recreation pass is required to access the Horsetail Falls Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

Directions to Horsetail Falls Trailhead

From I-84, take Exit #35 / Ainsworth. Turn west on the Columbia River Historic Highway for approximately 1.5 miles. The parking lot for Horsetail Falls is on the right (north) side of the road.

Contact Information

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
902 Wasco Ave | Suite 200
Hood River, OR 97031

Hood River Ranger District
6780 Highway 35
Parkdale, OR 97041

Mt. Hood National Forest Headquarters
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055

Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30a – 4:30p (closed 11:30 – 12:30)

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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