For anyone that has visited Oregon, there is no denying that it is home to some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls. Ever since I moved to Oregon, I have made it my unofficial mission to visit as many waterfalls as I can. And while I haven’t been able to see them all (I mean after all there are over 230 waterfalls in Oregon), I have been able to visit quite a few in this beautiful state. Here are my top 10 favorite waterfall hikes in Oregon that will make any visitor’s jaw drop.
List of 10 Best Waterfall Hikes in Oregon:
- Multnomah Falls
- Toketee Falls
- Lower Oneonta Falls
- Abiqua Falls
- Silver Falls State Park
- Latourell Falls
- Tumalo Falls
- Watson Falls
- Punchbowl Falls
- White River Falls
1. Multnomah Falls
As the second biggest waterfall in the United States, Multnomah Falls is a must see for everyone. This waterfall is one of Oregon’s most treasured landmarks so there is no wonder that Multnomah Falls is the number one most visited attraction in Oregon.
Multnomah Falls, located in the Columbia River Gorge area, is easily accessible from the parking lot within a few minute walk and has a few designated viewpoints for visitors. You can view it from the lower falls viewpoint, the Benson Bridge, or a platform overlooking the falls from the top. The best times to visit Multnomah Falls are in spring when the water level is high and the surrounding forest is lush green or in the fall when it has a cool gloomy look to it. Due to its close proximity near Portland, Multnomah Falls can get pretty packed during the summer season. But if you can manage the crowds during the summer, it is definitely one of the best waterfalls to see in Oregon.
2. Toketee Falls
Toketee Falls is a little gem tucked away in the Umpqua National Forest. It’s mostly recognizable for its signature basalt columns that surround the waterfall in all directions.
Toketee Falls can be admired from a viewing platform located in the distance or the more adventurous can climb down a steep cliff for a closer look. If you plan on the climb, make sure to bring sturdy shoes because it can get pretty slippery but ropes are attached in some parts to assist with the climb. If you bring a bathing suit, you can even go for a dip in the water but Oregon waters are notorious for being icy cold.
3. Lower Oneonta Falls
Lower Oneonta Falls in the Oneonta Gorge is one of my personal favorites but many people miss this waterfall on their visit to Portland because it’s harder to locate and get to. The hike to Oneonta Falls is short but includes climbing over rocks, logs and even swimming through ice cold water. Although the water is freezing cold even on the hottest summer days, Oneonta Gorge is my favorite waterfall to swim to in Oregon from spring through fall seasons.
I don’t recommend this hike for small children or pets, but for any adult it is worth the extra effort. The hike dead ends with a beautiful waterfall and for an extra adventure, you can swim over for a closer look or even go for a cliff jump.
4. Abiqua Falls
Abiqua Falls is a gorgeous waterfall located in Scotts Mills, Oregon. Similar to Toketee Falls, Abiqua Falls is known for the beautiful basalt columns that surround the waterfall.
The road to this waterfall is not well kept nor marked but if you are a serious waterfall hunter, this one is for you! You might even need to park your car halfway in and walk the last few miles, but on a beautiful summer day, it hardly feels like a hassle. I recommend bringing a lunch and some snacks to enjoy a nice picnic by the waterfall before heading back.
5. Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park is home to 10 beautiful waterfalls and most of them are accessible via a long but easy 9-mile hike. The best part about this park is that visitors are allowed to walk behind most of the waterfalls and enjoy the view from “behind the scenes”.
With 10 waterfalls there is plenty of hiking to do at Silver Falls State Park. The Silver Falls Park loop starts with South Falls, one of the most popular and photographed waterfalls in Oregon. This waterfall plunges 177 feet from the clifftop with a cave-like a walkway behind it. From there on visitors can choose to hike the entire 10 waterfall loop or drive to other waterfalls individually.
6. Latourell Falls
Latourell Falls is another favorite hike in the Columbia River Gorge. Located near the Multnomah and Oneonta Gorge Falls, you could make a day out of visiting just these three waterfalls.
Latourell Falls is a family friendly hike and the waterfall is located 10-15 minute walk away from the parking lot. This waterfall is mostly recognized for the yellow and green moss that has overgrown all over the grey waterfall cliffs. Visitors can also walk up close or behind this waterfall, but the crashing water could get you soaked.
7. Tumalo Falls
Tumalo Falls is a must see for anyone visiting Bend. Visitors can drive up close to this waterfall in the summer but the snow covers the road in the offseason, requiring a 7 mile round trip hike.
The hike is very easy and doesn’t gain much elevation. Once you get to the waterfall you can enjoy it in the distance from a viewing platform or take a short hike up and view it from up above.
8. Watson Falls
Watson Falls is the second biggest waterfall in Oregon yet it’s a hidden gem that you don’t hear about too often. Located in the Umpqua National Forest near Toketee Falls, you could see both waterfalls on the same trip.
The hike to this waterfall is short and runs along a creek passing a cute bridge along the way. The hike ends with a viewing platform right next to this gorgeous waterfall so you can enjoy an up close view as water rushes down the cliff.
9. Punchbowl Falls
With so many amazing waterfall hikes in the Columbia River Gorge area, it’s hard to pick which ones make the cut. Punchbowl Falls is another beauty located along the Columbia River Gorge and is one of the best secret waterfall spots in that area. It is accessed from the Eagle Creek Trail which is 12 miles long round trip, but Punchbowl Falls is located just a few miles in.
The best spot to view Punchbowl Falls is located at the lower Punch Bowl Falls trail that leads down into a mini gorge. If you don’t mind getting wet, you can walk in the water for a closer look or just admire it from the distance.
10. White River Falls
White River Falls is located a few hours East of Portland but it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls around, especially in the winter when the whole area is covered in a white layer of snow. This waterfall is out of the way from any other landmarks or attractions, but it’s worth the extra drive.
If you happen to catch it after a snowfall in Oregon, you might be the only visitor there. White River Falls is located within a few minute walk from highway 216 and can be viewed from a designated fenced off area above or visitors can hike down for a closer look. Although the hike is short, it is definitely one of the best winter hikes in Oregon and a must see for anyone who doesn’t mind the extra effort.
A trip to Oregon is not complete without visiting at least a few of its beautiful waterfalls. Whether you are visiting Oregon for the weekend or have lived here for a while, seeing these top waterfalls is a must for everyone.
Written by Laura Sausina