Exploring Oregon's Waterfalls

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Oregon is well known for its rainy climate that produces lush green forests and thundering waterfalls. And no trip to the state is quite complete without stopping at a few of these natural wonders. Alex and I did just that and had a blast exploring more of the Pacific Northwest. A few of the hikes were planned and one we just stumbled upon. Read on for more info!

Tamanawas Falls

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Tawanawas Falls is a 150' waterfall located in Mt. Hood National Forest off of Highway 35 and is an easy 3.6 mile round-trip hike. The trailhead is easy to find and may be crowded on weekends. The trail meanders through a forest as it follows Cold Spring Creek to the base of Tawanawas Falls. The journey to the waterfall is just as scenic as the waterfall itself, and in fact, I preferred the it over the final destination because there was so much more solitude on the way . There were multiple spots where the trail met up with the creek rushing through the forest, creating for a fairytale-like scene. Once at Tawanawas Falls, there are many different perspectives for you to photograph the falls, or if you would like to just enjoy the view there are several boulders to sit on. This is a very family-friendly hike so if you go mid-day on the weekend expect many families picnicking at the falls. It is also possible to walk around to the backside of the falls but be careful on the slippery rocks. 

Getting to Tamanawas Falls: 


Horsetail Falls

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Horsetail Falls is an easily accessible 176' waterfall located immediately off of the Historic Columbia River Highway. The waterfall is named after its resemblance to a horse's tail as the water shoots off a rock and cascades down. This is another busy spot so arrive early to secure a parking spot and enjoy a quieter experience. 

Getting to Horsetail Falls: 


Toketee Falls

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Toketee Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Umpqua National Forest. Toketee means "graceful" in Chinook and is a fitting description for the 120' falls that pours over basalt columns into a teal pool. The hike to the falls is an easy mile round-trip hike that follows the North Umpqua River as it snakes through the forest and trees draped in Spanish Moss. Alex and I headed out around 7am for this hike and I was happy with our early start as we were the only ones on the trail. The hike culminates at a viewing platform with a prime perspective on the falls, however, some people have decided that wasn't close enough and cut the fence on the right side of the platform in order to hike down to the shore. I read that it is a doable hike but when Alex and I went we couldn't find a way to safely make it down to the shore so we stayed on the platform and enjoyed the view from there.

Getting to Toketee Falls:  


Lower Oneonta Falls

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The final hike of our trip was Lower Oneonta Falls. This is just down the road from Horsetail Falls and also located directly off of the Historic Columbia River Highway. It is a short hike but was just as busy as Horsetail Falls (if not, busier), but was worth the crowds as it was such a unique experience. The hike is less than a mile round-trip and you can almost see the waterfall from the trailhead but that doesn't mean this hike is easy. The hike begins by crossing a huge log jam which can be dangerous if someone isn't sure-footed. Once over the log jam you will wade through knee to chest deep water depending on the season and your height. In the spring the water runoff is strong so the water is deeper. The strong runoff and my short stature meant the water was chin deep on me. It was also frigid. I have never felt such cold water. I longed for the drysuit that kept me warm in the Narrows, but I was in shorts, a tank top, and Keens so I froze. After awhile my body went numb and we made it to the base of the falls. We hung around just long enough to dry off and get warm before having to head back through the ice bath again.  


No trip to Oregon is complete without experiencing at least one waterfall and while this is a very short list of the many waterfalls Oregon has to offer it is a great starting point for anyone visiting the state. 

Happy adventuring!