Oneonta Gorge

Useful Information

Lower Oneonta Falls, Oneonta Gorge, Oregon. Public Domain.
Location: Multnomah County (45.589562, -122.075363)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=470 m, VR=45 m.
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Oneonta Gorge, Oregon. Public Domain.
1849 first photographed by Carleton Eugene Watkins from Oneonta, New York.
1990s partially blocked by three large boulders.
2011 fatality due to log jam in the gorge.
2017 trails closed due to Eagle Creek Fire.


Oneonta Gorge, Oregon, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. Public Domain.
Oneonta Gorge Creek Bridge on the Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon. Public Domain.
Oneonta Gorge, Oregon. Public Domain.

Oneonta Gorge is a gorge cut by Oneonta Gorge Creek, a tributary to the Columbia River. The rocks are Miocene basalt (25Ma) and responsible for the black colour of the gorge. The gorge was first photographed by Carleton Eugene Watkins from Oneonta, New York, hence the name. Watkins traveled west during the time of California Gold Rush and named the falls after his hometown.

The gorge has four waterfalls, named Triple Falls, Lower Oneonta Falls, Middle Oneonta Falls, and Upper Oneonta Falls. There is a trail along the gorge which allows views of three waterfalls, but it is currently closed due to a fire in 2017. According to the website of the Forestry Service it will stay closed due to the danger of rockfall.

However, the main sight is not on the trail. The slot canyon known as Oneonta Gorge, with 35 m to 45 m high vertical walls, flat floor and almost straight for 470 m from the begin of the gorge to the Lower Oneonta Falls, is the spectacular thing. There is no trail, it is necessary to walk in the bed of the river, sometimes through more than 1 m deep water. So you should wear appropriate clothes. The water is quite cold and good walking shoes are advisable. Be careful as the gorge is sometimes blocked by wood, and such an obstacle caused a fatal accident in 2011. There is also the danger of flash floods and high water during snopw melt. You should avoid to visit the gorge during rainy weather and in the spring. But it seems, as it is not a trail there is no closure and no fines by the Forestry Service.