Bridal Veil Falls: Wondrous Waterfalls!

Originally posted in April 2011: Spring is here, so I wanted to officially post this old entry on my new blog. This is a great time to hike this area.

I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for nearly 7 years now, and I am still discovering new amazing hikes to do.  The day started at around 10:30am when my friend and I sat down for a quick breakfast in Portland.  The perfect spot for today was Bridges Cafe!  This spot is always great, but you’re not here for the food review. You want to hear about our hike.

From Portland, this hike is a 30-minute ride heading east on Hwy 84, taking exit 28 toward Bridal Veil Falls.  Follow the historic Columbia River Hwy past Bridal, Wahkeena and Multnomah Falls, all of which you can see from the road.  Just after you pass the Multnomah Falls parking lot, you have your choice of three parking lots that access a series of falls trails.  I suggest the 2nd or 3rd lot for the best entrance and exit access.

The truth is, all these falls are connected, so any of the parking lots you see along the historic highway will give you access to some of the most scenic trails in the country. The Multnomah Falls region is home to the world’s highest concentration of waterfalls.

We started our hike from the second lot after the Multnomah Falls Visitor Center and we started at the trailhead to the west of the lot.  This trailhead is slightly longer in distance, but is not quite as steep as the entry to the east of the second lot.

The trail toward Oneonta Falls is about 1.6 miles. The trail has some steep sections and switchbacks, but the scenery gives you some great opportunities to catch your breath.

While hiking this section, we saw several families with very young kids exploring this stretch.  The lush pine forest was covered in ferns, moss and lichen. Small waterfalls and springs were abundant.  This area provides a brilliant green landscape in any season.

From Oneonta Falls, you can continue another 1.2 miles north to Triple Falls. I can’t imagine having missed this one, but you can bypass this leg of the hike for a more direct route to Horsetail Falls. From Oneonta Falls, travel southwest for about a mile, passing scenic viewpoints of the Columbia River Gorge before you arrive at Upper Horsetail Falls (ponytail falls) and another .5 mile to the lower section.

Hiking in this region year-round makes an old hike new again.  Each season brings a different view of these falls, and with a pretty wet winter under our belts this year (2011), the falls are truly raging and the trees afire with bright green lichen and mosses.

Every inch of the Columbia Gorge is part of geologic history. See firsthand the carved rock cliffs shaped by the world’s greatest floods, the Missoula Floods of the Ice Ages, and ancient chunks of lava found littering the trails and slides. There are even signs of massive waterfalls of the past that can be seen at Oneonta falls where many huge bolders have found their resting place in the river.

As you can see, there are many amazing sights to see in this hiking loop.  I for one will most definitely be headed back there next season.

Here are a few good hiking sites with some additional tips and maps of the region.

www.traveloregon.com – reviews and hikes

www.fs.usda.gov – a great map!

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