Oneonta Gorge

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Lower Oneonta Falls
Oneonta Gorge Falls
ONEONTA GORGE. VIEW TOWARD FALLS. - Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale, Multnomah County, OR HAER ORE,26-TROUT.V,1-58.tif
Location45°35′08″N 122°04′22″W / 45.58556°N 122.07278°W / 45.58556; -122.07278 (Lower Oneonta Falls) Multnomah County, Oregon, United States
Total height100 feet (30 m)[1]
Number of drops1
Middle Oneonta Falls
Oneonta Falls
Location45°35′07″N 122°04′22″W / 45.58515°N 122.07279°W / 45.58515; -122.07279 (Middle Oneonta Falls) Multnomah County, Oregon, United States
Total height24 feet (7.3 m)[2]
Number of drops1
flow rate
150.0 cfs
Upper Oneonta Falls
Oneonta Falls
Location45°34′56″N 122°04′22″W / 45.58235°N 122.07278°W / 45.58235; -122.07278 (Upper Oneonta Falls) Multnomah County, Oregon (no trail access)
Total height65 feet (20 m)[3]
Number of drops1
flow rate
100.0 cfs
Triple Falls
Lower Oneonta Falls, Oneonta Gorge Falls
Location45°34′43″N 122°04′20″W / 45.57861°N 122.07222°W / 45.57861; -122.07222 (Triple Falls) Multnomah County, Oregon, United States
Total height64 feet (20 m)[4]
Number of drops1
flow rate
200 cfs

Oneonta Gorge is a scenic gorge located in the Columbia River Gorge area of the American state of Oregon. The U.S. Forest Service has designated it as a botanical area because of the unique aquatic and woodland plants that grow there. Exposed walls of 25-million-year-old (Miocene epoch) basalt are home to a wide variety of ferns, mosses, hepatics, and lichens, many of which grow only in the Columbia River Gorge. Oneonta Gorge with its 50 species of wildflowers, flowering shrubs and trees has been described as "one of the true dramatic chasms in the state."[5] The Oneonta Gorge Creek Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are four major waterfalls on Oneonta Creek as it runs through the gorge. Middle Oneonta Falls can be seen clearly from a footpath and is very often mistaken for the upper or lower falls. The lower gorge (a slot canyon) has been preserved as a natural habitat, so there is no boardwalk or footpath through it as such. Thus, Lower Oneonta Falls can only be seen by walking upstream from the creek's outlet at the Historic Columbia River Highway. To get to a vantage point where the entire lower falls is visible may require wading through water that in some places can be shoulders-deep, depending on the season and the relative amount of snow melt. The upper falls are about a mile upstream from the middle falls and require scrambling up the creek or climbing down a canyon wall to view. The fourth falls which is "Triple falls" can be viewed from several vantage points on the upper trails in the canyon.

The trail has issues due to natural as well as human impacts. In the late 1990s, the stream was partially occluded when three large boulders (the size of "pickup trucks") tumbled into the stream.[6] Subsequently, a log jam has formed in the midst of the slot canyon.[7] This has created a hazard for hikers, which led to a fatality in 2011.[8]

As of November 2020, trails providing access to the waterfalls remain closed due to damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.[9]

The Oneonta Gorge was first photographed by Carleton Eugene Watkins, a native of Oneonta, New York, who had traveled west in 1851 during the time of the California Gold Rush. Watkins named the Oneonta Falls after his hometown.[10]

Oneonta Gorge Creek Bridge[edit]

Built in 1914, the Oneonta Gorge Creek Bridge, one half mile downstream from the falls, is a "four-span 80-foot reinforced-concrete deck girder trestle" that "is 24 feet wide and has a roadway measuring 22 feet." It is a contributing structure in the Historic Columbia River Highway, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[11]



  1. ^ "Northwest Waterfall Survey: Lower Oneonta Falls". March 19, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  2. ^ "Northwest Waterfall Survey: Middle Oneonta Falls". March 19, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  3. ^ "Northwest Waterfall Survey: Upper Oneonta Falls". March 19, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "Northwest Waterfall Survey: Triple Falls". March 19, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  5. ^ Ralph Friedman (1990). In Search of Western Oregon. Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers. p. 313. ISBN 0-87004-332-3.
  6. ^ Tom Kloster (May 30, 2011). "Let's clear the logjam at Oneonta Gorge". Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  7. ^ "Slideshow: Oneonta Gorge". NW Life. Oregon Public Broadcast. Aug 9, 2012.
  8. ^ "Hiker dies after 'freak accident' in Gorge". KGW. May 19, 2011.
  9. ^ "Oneonta Trailhead". US Forest Service. Retrieved November 3, 2020. Current Conditions: Closed indefinitely due to hazards and unstable conditions from a 2017 fire.
  10. ^ "Oneonta/USA". Greater Oneonta Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  11. ^ Robert W. Hadlow (February 4, 2000). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Columbia River Highway / Historic Columbia River Highway". National Park Service. Retrieved January 12, 2022. With accompanying 33 photos

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°35′23″N 122°04′31″W / 45.58967°N 122.07527°W / 45.58967; -122.07527