For the second week in a row, the end of the week coincided with absolutely perfect weather so we took advantage of it yet again and did another hike! Another gorge hike, only about a half an hour from our apartment (we have to keep reminding ourselves of this). It started at Horsetail Falls, which we've visited many times when driving the historic highway. Like our hike last week, the trail quickly took us up and over the falls and we spent most of the time hiking well above the Columbia River, with lots of nice views.
Not too long after the initial climb, we came upon the first of many waterfalls, called Ponytail Falls (or Upper Horsetail Falls), and we walked behind it as we passed. Soon after that was the first of a few great views of the gorge - this one looked to the east, and we could see all the way to Beacon Rock and Bonneville Dam.
We followed Oneonta Creek, from high above (you might remember when we hiked into the creek itself right after we moved here), until we came to a metal bridge that crossed Oneonta Gorge. After we crossed the bridge, we had to decide whether we wanted to continue on the loop, down the mountains, or whether to take a side trip up to Triple Falls - another 2 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to see yet another waterfall, we opted for the side trip.
The climbing was steeper here - and much rockier. As we climbed higher, a nice breeze picked up and we noticed how high we'd climbed. So far, our hikes in the gorge have been in shady dells far below the tops of the mountains with very little sky around, surrounded by trees. As we got toward Triple Falls, the trees thinned out, the sky got bigger, and there was a very different feeling about the whole trail - we were excited that we weren't
far from the tops of the surrounding mountains. This was our first "moderate" hike, and we have a ways to go before we scale any big mountains, but we're looking forward to getting out of the undergrowth and exploring different parts of the gorge!
We reached our destination after passing by a number of small waterfalls created by melting snow. We sat down for a break next to the bridge over rocky Oneonta Creek. There were far more people on the trail than we encountered last week, but it still felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. Sitting in the sunshine next to a babbling mountain stream - we probably would have stayed forever if we didn't suddenly notice that we were really hungry! Next time, we'll definitely pack a picnic.
On the way down, we passed another great view of the gorge - this time to the west. I don't think we could ever get tired of seeing it. I'm not sure which hike we'll do next - there are still plenty within a thirty minute drive - but I'm sure it will be wonderful; it seems like there just aren't any bad trails in this state. Here's a GPS map of where we hiked: