5 Year-Round Waterfall Hikes That Aren’t Multnomah Falls


There is nothing wrong with Multnomah Falls, and if you have not yet hiked to the top I highly recommend it. (Plus, how many hikes end at a soft serve ice cream window??) But here are 5 brilliant waterfall hikes that, while still a draw to crowds, aren’t as overrun as our beloved Multnomah Falls.

(Note: Many of these hikes can be slippery with steep dropoffs that can give way, especially in the wet months. Ice can form around waterfalls in the winter. Please keep a close eye on children, keep dogs on a leash, and stay away from edges.)

1. Horsetail Falls/Triple Falls

You’ll see four waterfalls on this moderate, 5 mile hike. Start at the Horsetail Falls trailhead and follow the trail past Horsetail Falls, behind Ponytail Falls, and over Oneonta Gorge, where you can see Oneonta Falls from the bridge. Just past the bridge, turn left onto Trail #424 and follow upstream for about a mile to Triple Falls. Turn around and head back out the way you came. (Some people follow Trail #424 back to the highway, but then you have to walk about a half mile along the highway to get back to your car. I prefer to follow my tracks back to the Horsetail Falls Trailhead.)

To get there from Portland (about 35 miles): Head east on I-84 to Exit 35/Ainsworth State Park. Drive 1.5 miles west on the Columbia River Scenic Highway. Parking area on the north side of highway.


2. Wahclella Falls

These beautiful, wild waterfalls are part of an easy, 2 mile hike in the gorge. It’s an out and back hike, with a short loop at the end. You’ll pass Munra Falls (and probably get doused by them) on your way to Wahclella.

To get there from Portland (about 40 miles): Head east on I-84 to Exit 40, Bonneville Dam. Turn right at the stop sign and drive about 100 feet. Wahclella Falls Trailhead will be on your right.


3. Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls (optional Twister Falls)

This is a 12 mile, moderate, out and back hike that leads you past tons of beautiful waterfalls. Some people say it’s the best hike in the gorge. You can turn around after 6 miles at Tunnel Falls, or continue another (steep!) third of a mile to Twister Falls.

To get there from Portland (about 41 miles): Head east on I-84. Take Exit 41/Eagle Creek. Turn right at bottom of ramp. Drive south on Eagle Creek Road to the trailhead.

dry creek

4. Dry Creek Falls

This is a 4.4 mile out and back hike that leads you past many waterfalls. It tends to be less crowded than the falls closer to Portland. You can turn it into a longer hike by continuing over the creek after seeing the Dry Creek Falls.

To get there from Portland (about 44 miles): Take I-84 east to Exit 44/Cascade Locks. Follow the signs to Bridge of the Gods/Stevenson. Before crossing the bridge you’ll see a wooded parking area on your right. This is the trailhead. You can park here except in the winter months, when you should park near Charburger restaurant or under the bridge. The trail begins across the road, south of the trailhead, passing under I-84.

silver falls

5. Silver Falls – The Trail of Ten Falls

Silver Falls State Park boasts 25 miles of multi-use paths. The Trail of Ten Falls is an 8.7 mile, easy loop, including a quick in and out to the 10th fall. It can be shortened in a couple spots. Pets are not allowed on most of the trail. Gets crowded, especially on the weekends, but for good reason. It’s a beautiful park all year long. Day-use permits for sale at the park.

To get there from Portland (about 57 miles): Take I-5 south. Take Exit 253 just past Salem. Follow OR-22 E and OR-214 N/Silver Falls Hwy about 23 miles to Silver Falls State Park.

Mercy Strongheart grew up in Northern New Mexico. The child of radical, hippie folk musicians, she spent her childhood making up stories and searching for sugar. Mercy is currently working on her second novel and writing freelance articles about things she likes, including hiking, bicycling, health, and watching extreme sports from afar. She has also been a Licensed Massage Therapist for the past 13 years (hence her know-it-all fitness articles). She lives in Portland.