April 23, 2024
waterfall hikes in oregon

20 best waterfall hikes in Oregon

Oregon, renowned for its stunning landscapes and abundant natural beauty, is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. Among its diverse array of outdoor wonders, the majestic waterfall hikes of Oregon stand out as some of the most awe-inspiring and accessible attractions. 

1.Multnomah Falls Hike

best waterfall hikes in oregon
Photo by Tim Mossholder
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 2.4 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Troutdale 
  • Waterfall Height: 611 feet

The Multnomah Falls hike offers a stunning journey through the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. This hike begins at the base of the falls, where the roaring cascade creates a misty atmosphere that refreshes hikers. 

The trail is well-maintained, providing hikers of varying skill levels an opportunity to experience the awe-inspiring scenery. As you continue upwards, the path becomes more challenging, rewarding your efforts with sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge below. 

2. Trail of Ten Falls

best waterfall hikes in oregon
Photo by Jasperdo from Flickr
  • Location: Silver Falls State Park 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 7.8 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Closest Town: Silverton 
  • Waterfall Height: Varies (the tallest is South Falls at 177 feet)

This enchanting trail lives up to its name as hikers encounter ten stunning waterfalls along the way. It is a perfect blend of natural beauty and refreshing activity, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

As you embark on the Trail of Ten Falls, you’ll be treated to a symphony of sights and sounds, each waterfall unique in its formation and character. The path winds through a lush forest, revealing breathtaking viewpoints that showcase the power and grace of these cascades.

This hike offers a memorable journey into the heart of Oregon’s stunning wilderness.

3. Ramona Falls Hike 

ultimate waterfalls in oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Mount Hood National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 7.1 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Closest Town: Rhododendron 
  • Waterfall Height: 120 feet

The hike is a sensory delight, with the peaceful sound of the river accompanying your journey. As you approach the falls, a picturesque footbridge provides a close-up encounter with the shimmering waters. 

Ramona Falls is a serene masterpiece, surrounded by moss-covered rocks and vibrant greenery. The hike to Ramona Falls offers a serene escape into Oregon’s natural wonders, where every step brings you closer to the enchanting beauty of this hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest.

This unique waterfall tumbles gracefully over a stunning cliff, its delicate cascades forming a lacy cover that shines in the dappled sunlight.

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4. Abiqua Falls Hike

stunning waterfalls of oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Scotts Mills 
  • Difficulty: Challenging 
  • Length: 0.7 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 249 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Scotts Mills 
  • Waterfall Height: 92 feet

The trail is unmarked and can be challenging, leading adventurers through rocky terrain and steep slopes. But the reward is well worth the effort. As you approach the falls, the suspense builds, and then suddenly, you’re greeted by the dramatic sight of Abiqua Falls, which plunges into a crystal-clear pool below, surrounded by moss-covered basalt cliffs.

The ambiance around Abiqua Falls is enchanting, with the sound of rushing water and the cool mist from the falls creating a serene atmosphere. This hidden gem offers a sense of solitude and natural wonder, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

5. Proxy Falls Loop Hike

best waterfall hikes in oregon
Photo by Pete from Flickr
  • Location: Willamette National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 1.6 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet (approximately)
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Closest Town: McKenzie Bridge 
  • Waterfall Height: 226 feet

The trail starts at the Proxy Falls Trailhead and leads you into a dense forest of towering Douglas fir and hemlock trees. As you venture deeper, you’ll come across Proxy Falls, a stunning pair of waterfalls that cascade down a wall of columnar basalt, surrounded by vibrant mosses and ferns. The sight is truly mesmerizing, with the water gracefully flowing over the dark rock formations, creating a contrast that’s a feast for the eyes.

The loop continues, allowing you to explore the lush forest and appreciate the serene ambiance that defines this hike. Along the way, you’ll encounter numerous wooden bridges that cross pristine creeks, enhancing the magical atmosphere of the trail.

6. Watson Falls Hike

waterfall hike in oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Umpqua National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 0.8 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 360 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Closest Town: Roseburg 
  • Waterfall Height: 294 feet

It is a hidden gem that unveils the breathtaking beauty of the Umpqua National Forest. The trail to Watson Falls is well-maintained, making it accessible to hikers of various skill levels. However, some steep sections can be challenging. As you approach the falls, the sound of rushing water grows louder, heightening the anticipation of the grand reveal. 

Once you reach the viewing platform, you’re treated to a jaw-dropping panorama of the falls and the lush wilderness that surrounds it. Watson Falls is not only a natural wonder but also an excellent example of Oregon’s captivating landscapes, offering a rewarding outdoor experience that leaves you with a profound appreciation for the state’s wild beauty.

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7. Punch Bowl Falls Hike

stunning waterfall in oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 4 miles round-trip 
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Hood River 
  • Waterfall Height: 35 feet

This round-trip trail begins at the Eagle Creek Trailhead and leads you through a lush and mossy forest. Along the way, you’ll follow the rushing waters of Eagle Creek, passing over narrow footbridges that offer thrilling views of the creek’s crystal-clear waters. 

As you continue, the trail leads to Punch Bowl Falls. This iconic waterfall forms a perfect bowl-like shape, where the pristine water plunges gracefully into a shimmering pool, surrounded by towering basalt cliffs and vibrant foliage. 

The sight is simply stunning, and during the warmer months, it’s not uncommon to see daring swimmers taking a refreshing dip in the pool.

The trail is well-maintained, but it does involve some steep and narrow sections that add to the excitement of the hike. The reward of witnessing Punch Bowl Falls up close, with its unique geological formation and natural beauty, makes this waterfall hike in Oregon an unforgettable experience.

8.Tamanawas Falls Hike

waterfall hikes in oregon
Photo by Bonnie Moreland from Flickr
  • Location: Mount Hood National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate 
  • Length: 3.4 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Hood River 
  • Waterfall Height: 100 feet

This round-trip trail takes you through a dense, mossy forest alongside the babbling Cold Spring Creek. The enchanting path is punctuated by wooden footbridges that cross the creek, adding to the picturesque charm of the hike. 

As you continue, you’ll be rewarded with the breathtaking sight of Tamanawas Falls. Cascading gracefully from a basalt amphitheater, the falls plunge some 100 feet into a rocky alcove, creating a captivating natural spectacle that’s enhanced by the surrounding vibrant greenery.

The Tamanawas Falls Hike is an ideal adventure for hikers of various skill levels, offering a serene ambiance and opportunities for exploration along the way. The falls serve as the perfect centerpiece of this trek, inviting you to relax and take in the beauty of this hidden gem.

9.Sahalie and Koosah Falls Hike

waterfall hike oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Willamette National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 2.6 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 380 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Closest Town: McKenzie Bridge 
  • Waterfall Height: Varies (the tallest is Sahalie Falls at 100 feet and the Koosah Falls at 70 feet)

This trail showcases not one but two stunning waterfalls, Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, on the McKenzie River. Starting at the Sahalie Falls Trailhead, the trail guides you through an enchanting forest filled with Douglas fir and lush undergrowth. 

Within a short distance, you’ll arrive at Sahalie Falls, where the crystal-clear waters of the McKenzie River tumble dramatically over a lava shelf, creating a mesmerizing curtain of water that seems to appear out of nowhere.

Continuing along the trail, you’ll soon reach Koosah Falls, a magnificent waterfall that thunders into a basalt-rimmed pool. The viewing platforms provide an excellent vantage point to witness the raw power and magnificence of these falls.

10. Salt Creek Falls Hike

salt creek fall waterfall hike
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Willamette National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 0.6 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 335 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Oakridge 
  • Waterfall Height: 286 feet

The Salt Creek Falls Hike is a captivating adventure that takes you to one of Oregon’s most impressive waterfalls. Starting from the Salt Creek Falls Observation Site, this easy-to-access trail is a round trip, making it suitable for hikers of all ages and skill levels. 

As you follow the well-maintained path, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding forested landscape. However, the highlight of this hike is undoubtedly Salt Creek Falls itself, a towering cascade that tumbles into a rocky canyon below. 

The sheer size and power of this waterfall are nothing short of awe-inspiring, and the viewpoint offers an excellent perspective to take in its majestic beauty.

11. Butte Creek Falls Hike

waterfall hike oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Scotts Mills 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.1 miles loop
  • Elevation Gain: 320 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Closest Town: Scotts Mills 
  • Waterfall Height: 78-feet Butte Creek Falls and the 20-feet Upper Butte Creek Falls 

This relatively short and easy loop trail is nestled in the Santiam State Forest, making it a hidden gem for those seeking peace and unspoiled beauty. As you embark on this adventure, you’ll cross a peaceful forested landscape with towering trees and the soothing sounds of flowing water. 

Along the way, you’ll encounter several picturesque wooden footbridges that span the creek, enhancing the charm of the hike.

The reward for your journey comes in the form of two gorgeous waterfalls, Upper Butte Creek Falls and Lower Butte Creek Falls. Upper Butte Creek Falls is the first stop, featuring a 20-feet cascade that gracefully flows over a basalt ledge, creating a calm pool below. 

A short hike further takes you to the more dramatic Lower Butte Creek Falls, where the creek plunges 78 feet into a pristine pool, encircled by lush vegetation.

12. Sweet Creek Falls Hike

Incredible waterfalls in oregon
Photo from Bonnie Moreland from Flickr
  • Location: Siuslaw National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 2.2 miles Roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Mapleton 
  • Waterfall Height: Varies (the tallest is Sweet Creek Falls at 70 feet)

One of the highlights of the Sweet Creek Falls Hike is the chance to encounter multiple waterfalls along the way. These range in size and character, from the gentle and elegant to the dramatic and thunderous. The trail culminates at Sweet Creek Falls, a majestic waterfall that tumbles into a crystal-clear pool below. 

It’s a perfect spot to relax, have a picnic, or simply savor the natural beauty that surrounds you. This waterfall hike offers a refreshing escape into Oregon’s pristine wilderness, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to reconnect with nature and experience the magic of cascading waterfalls in a tranquil forest setting.

13. South Falls Loop Hike

  • Location: Silverton 
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate 
  • Length: 3.5 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Closest Town: Silverton 
  • Waterfall Height: 177 feet

This trail guides you through a dense canopy of Douglas fir, hemlock, and moss-covered maples.  

The well-maintained path, along with numerous viewing platforms make it accessible for hikers of varying skill levels. It’s a true masterpiece of nature, and a unique feature of this hike is the opportunity to walk behind the cascading waters, offering a breathtaking and immersive experience.

Lower South Falls, Middle North Falls, and Drake Falls are among the highlights, and they all contribute to the magical ambiance of this hike. The well-maintained path, along with numerous viewing platforms, makes it accessible for hikers of varying skill levels. 

14. Kentucky Falls Hike

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Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Siuslaw National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 4.0 miles  
  • Elevation Gain: 650 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Mapleton
  • Waterfall Height: Varies 

This trail leads you through a pristine wilderness of towering Douglas fir and ancient ferns, creating a truly immersive experience. Along the way, you’ll come across wooden footbridges that traverse pristine creeks and streams, enhancing the sense of adventure and serenity.

The trail culminates at Kentucky Falls, a pair of cascades that tumble dramatically into a rocky canyon. Upper Kentucky Falls stands at an impressive 100 feet, while Lower Kentucky Falls plunges 40 feet into a serene pool below. These waterfalls are a sight to behold, and a viewing platform offers an ideal spot to capture their beauty. 

The Kentucky Falls Hike is a captivating journey into the heart of Oregon’s unspoiled wilderness, where the symphony of flowing water and the vibrant green surroundings create a tranquil and rejuvenating atmosphere for all nature enthusiasts to enjoy.

15. Paulina Falls Hike

Family friendly hike in oregon
Photo by Bonnie Moreland from Flickr
  • Location: Newberry National Volcanic Monument 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 0.5 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 23 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: La Pine 
  • Waterfall Height: 80 feet

This short and moderate trail takes you through a tranquil forest of towering Ponderosa pine trees. As you approach the falls, the sound of rushing water grows louder, building anticipation for the breathtaking sight that awaits. 

Paulina Falls is a magnificent twin waterfall, with one cascade dropping 80 feet and the other plunging 20 feet into a crystal-clear pool. The contrast of the white cascading water against the dark volcanic rocks creates a striking visual spectacle.

The viewing platform near the falls provides an excellent vantage point to take in the natural beauty of this area. The Paulina Falls Hike is family-friendly and easily accessible, making it a great choice for hikers of all ages.

16. Elowah Falls Hike

Elowah Falls oregon
Photo by brx0 from Flickr
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Length: 2.1 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 340 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Waterfall Height: 213 feet

This trail begins at the John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor and takes you along a well-maintained path. As you hike, you’ll be surrounded by towering moss-covered basalt cliffs and vibrant greenery, creating a serene and immersive atmosphere. The trail descends gently, providing glimpses of McCord Creek along the way, before culminating at the breathtaking Elowah Falls.

The power and elegance of the falls are mesmerizing, and a viewing platform offers a perfect spot to take in the beauty of this natural wonder. The Elowah Falls Hike is a relatively short but rewarding adventure, offering a serene escape into the heart of Oregon’s scenic beauty.

17. Toketee Falls Hike

  • Location: Umpqua National Forest 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 0.8 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 170 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Roseburg 
  • Waterfall Height: 113 feet

This trail begins at the Toketee Falls Trailhead and leads hikers through a mossy, old-growth forest of Douglas fir and Western hemlock trees. The path meanders along the North Umpqua River, creating a serene and soothing ambiance with the sounds of rushing water. Along the way, you’ll pass through a unique basalt gorge, providing a dramatic backdrop to your hike.

A viewing platform offers a perfect vantage point to appreciate the falls’ beauty and capture some memorable photos. Toketee Falls is known for its mesmerizing columnar basalt formation surrounding the cascades, adding to the waterfall’s unique charm.

18. Wahclella Falls Hike

  • Location: Columbia River Gorge 
  • Difficulty: Easy  
  • Length: 2.0 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 308 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Cascade Locks 
  • Waterfall Height: 350 feet

This trail begins at the Wahclella Falls Trailhead. As you venture into the forest, you’ll follow Tanner Cree which adds a delightful soundtrack of flowing water to your hike. The path wanders through towering ferns, moss-covered rocks, and vibrant greenery, creating a serene and immersive atmosphere.

Wahclella Falls itself is the highlight of this adventure, and it doesn’t disappoint. The waterfall plunges 65 feet into a pristine pool surrounded by dramatic basalt cliffs, creating a scene straight out of a fairy tale. A viewing platform provides an excellent spot to take in the falls’ beauty and capture memorable photos. 

It’s a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the lush natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge and witness the magic of Wahclella Falls in all its splendor.

19. Fairy Falls Hike

best waterfall hikes in Oregon
Photo from commons.wikimedia.org
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 2.0 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and back 
  • Closest Town: Washougal 
  • Waterfall Height: 20 feet

This hike offers a delightful journey through the lush forests of the Columbia River Gorge, leading to the enchanting Fairy Falls. This trail is accessible from the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead and is a favorite among hikers for its tranquil ambiance and stunning natural beauty. 

As you wander through the forested path, the sound of flowing water from Wahkeena Creek accompanies your hike, creating a serene atmosphere. Along the way, you’ll encounter vibrant wildflowers, moss-covered rocks, and towering trees, providing a quintessential Pacific Northwest experience.

20. Lower Oneonta Falls Hike

best waterfall hikes in oregon
Photo by Jeff Hollett from Flickr
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 1.0 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: relatively minimal  
  • Closest Town: Cascade Locks 
  • Waterfall Height: 100 feet approximately

This hike is a captivating journey into a lush, mossy canyon, offering you a unique and unforgettable experience. This trail starts at the Oneonta Gorge Trailhead and immediately immerses you in a magical world of fern-covered cliffs and moss-draped trees. 

The trail guides you along the narrow gorge, where the walls close in, creating an enchanting tunnel-like effect as you navigate through cool, knee-deep water. This refreshing wade is a part of the adventure, making it a fantastic way to cool off on a hot summer day.

As you venture deeper into the gorge, you’ll reach the mesmerizing Lower Oneonta Falls. This waterfall is a hidden gem, cascading dramatically over a basalt cliff into a tranquil pool below. The surrounding walls of the gorge create a stunning backdrop, enhancing the falls’ charisma. 

To reach the base of the falls, you may need to scramble over rocks and logs, adding an extra layer of adventure to the experience.

Conclusion

Oregon’s scenic beauty is truly unmatched, and its collection of awe-inspiring waterfalls offers you an unparalleled experience. From the powerful cascades of Multnomah Falls to the tranquil beauty of Fairy Falls, each hike in this list provides a unique adventure for hiking enthusiasts. Whether you’re exploring the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood National Forest, or the breathtaking McKenzie River area, these waterfall hikes are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your camera, and embark on an exhilarating journey through the natural wonders of Oregon’s best waterfall hikes. Happy hiking!

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