Top 10 Portland Waterfalls—You Must Explore

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portland waterfalls
Photo by WenPhotos, on Pixabay, Copyright 2022

No matter if you’re an Oregon City local or traveling in and around Portland, you’ve got to take time to visit the beautiful waterfalls this state has to offer you!

Oregon has about 238 waterfalls. Some if not all, the beautiful waterfalls lie just 30 minutes from Portland. Anyone who’s considering a vacation to Portland, Oregon should take a drive down the Historic Columbia River Highway, a gorgeous road, just to see some of the state favorites that draw many tourists and fans.

Within a short stroll along the Historic Columbia River Highway, you can view Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s largest and second-largest waterfall, or uncover some hidden tropical wonders like Oneonta Falls.

The Columbia River Gorge, an 80-mile-long gorge through the Cascade mountain range, is only a 40-minute drive from Portland. The region has the highest percentage of cascades in the United States and is home to some of the best and most epic waterfalls.

The waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge can be found anywhere along the Historic Columbia River Highway, a historic highway that runs beside the gorge. These waterfall cascades are quite nearby, making it easier for fellow travelers to simultaneously visit multiple of these in a short span of time.

There are hundreds of stops over, and of course, it is the specialty of Portland. Scroll more to find several of our favorite waterfalls in this list of Top 10 Portland Waterfalls.

Eagle Creek Fire

Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Portland has suffered a lot of adversity these past years. A teenager burning firecrackers along the Eagle Creek Trail resulted in the most horrific tragedy one could witness, burning almost 500,00 acres in a span of minutes.

The Eagle Creek fire caused a lot of harm and destruction to one of the most significant statures; the historic Oneonta Tunnel, which was built for the ease of travel through the Columbia River Highway. Major paths were also destroyed, making them almost permanently closed for visitors.

However, there are countless other waterfalls near Portland that will just amaze you, so pick up your hiking gear and get ready to witness ten falls, which are some of the most popular and alluring waterfall hikes Portland has to offer.

1. Latourell falls

Photo by David Merrick on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Number one on this listicle of top ten Portland waterfalls is the beautiful Latourell Falls, which is one of the more popular cascade hikes that can be reached through a short walk on the level, paved Latourell Falls Trailhead, which is the first waterfall stop along the Columbia River Highway.

The vivid green moss and yellow lichen that bloom across the rocks that support the waterfall are what make it so distinct.

The upper Latourell Falls can be seen from the walking area or a bridge which is just right across the waterfall, however, many tourists can get a closer peek if they choose to walk up to it.

Having to stand next to one of Oregon’s tallest waterfalls, the Latourell Falls Plunge, at 249 feet, and experiencing the surge of wind and waves as it cascades down the rock will undoubtedly make you feel small.

You can either return the very same way you came or do a longer 2.4-mile loop. The Latourell Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls which is appropriate for a beginner-level hike.

Places to Visit Near Latourell Falls

  • Guy Talbot State Park (0.4km from Latourell Falls)
  • Vista House (2.2 km from Latourell Falls)

2. The bridal veil falls

Photo by KEITH WONG on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Next on the list of top ten Portland waterfalls is the Bridal Veil Falls which is the following site in the Columbia River Gorge.

A wooden platform half a mile away provides the best view of Bridal Veil Falls. This hike is a bit difficult due to the varying altitudes and various switchbacks along the way. However, there are numerous resting spots along the way.

This waterfall gets its name from its appearance since the water is separated into two tiers that become gradually broader towards the bottom, resembling a silky satin bridal veil.

Places to Visit Near Bridal Veil Falls

  • Healing Oasis Health Spa (0.7 km from Bridal Veil Falls)
  • Klassen Farms (1.8 km from Bridal Veil Falls)

3. Wahkeena Falls

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Next on the list of top ten Portland waterfalls is Wahkeena Falls, a difficult waterfall hike that is unique among the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls where it begins as a white fan gushing down a cliff and gradually transforms into a creek running down the gentle rock slope.

Two miles up, a short hike leads to a charming stone arch bridge. Walk up via the Multnomah-Wahkeena Falls Trail 420 for further views of stunning waterfalls, creeks, and gorge panoramas.

You may appreciate Wahkeena Falls from afar or climb up slopes to see its three tiers up close while also getting spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls from an observation platform along the historic route.

The hike to Wahkeena Falls is not for those with a faint heart. Although, if you wish, you can climb up to the Fairy Falls, sometimes known as “Ghost Falls,” when the sun shines just right on the water.

Places to Visit Near Wahkeena Falls

  • Big Bears Market and Deli (2.7 km from Fairy Falls) 
  • Shepperd’s Dell state natural area (3.8 km from Fairy Falls)

4. Multnomah Falls

Photo by Alexandra Nicolae on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

On the list of Portland waterfalls; Multnomah Falls is the next which is one of the highest and best waterfall hikes in Oregon. However, there is considerable uncertainty about this distinction, as the World Waterfall Database lists Multnomah Falls as the 137th tallest waterfall in the United States since it does not specify year-round and seasonal waterfalls.

Multnomah Falls is a popular destination for both tourists and residents, drawing over 2 million visits each year. Go for a luncheon on the Benson Bridge, a short hike to the Hood River Bridge or the Hood National Forest, or a photo along your way through the Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls, accessible and more challenging routes.

As a result, it is strongly advised to arrive early and plan ahead for parking. Although Multnomah Falls is beautiful from the street, it is definitely worth the short trip to Benson Bridge. It is also feasible to trek further up the falls, where the vistas are even more spectacular.

Places to Visit Near Multnomah Falls

  • Bonneville Hatchery (3.8 km from Multnomah Falls)
  • Beacon Rock (5 km from Multnomah Falls)

5. Horsetail Falls

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Next on the list of top ten Portland waterfalls is Horsetail Falls. While visiting the Columbia River Gorge, Horsetail Falls is definitely one of the unexpected favorites and, honestly, the best of these ten falls.

Horsetail Falls are divided into two sections: the lower Horsetail Falls (Lower Falls) and the upper (Ponytail Falls). The falls, so named because of their likeness to a horse’s tail, are among the most tranquil in the canyon, exhibiting a beautiful waterfall in downtown Portland.

There is a big space surrounding the foot of the waterfall that provides for some very spectacular waterfall shots. In contrast to its nearby companion, Oneonta Falls, the waterfall is easily accessible due to its proximity to the Columbia River Highway. Oneonta Falls is honestly one of the best waterfalls near Portland.

A 0.8-mile out-and-back route leads to Ponytail Falls, a magnificent fall that hikers may stroll behind on their way back to Horsetail, A simple, low-elevation circular path is super easy, even for a beginner-level hike. It is also close to Ainsworth State Park.

Places to Visit Near Horsetail Falls

  • Tallac Historic Site (13.66 km from Horsetail Falls trail)
  • Glen Alpine Falls (6.36 km from Horsetail Waterfalls)

6. Ramona Falls

Photo by Jonathan Meyer. Pexels.com Copyright 2022

Next on the list of top ten Portland waterfalls is Ramona Falls, which is one of the most popular waterfall hikes is buried deep in Mount Hood National Forest, drapes like a 120-foot (37 m) veil over the basalt rock face underneath, a stunning halfway for a seven-mile (11 km) shaped climb along the Pacific Crest Trail.

The waterfall is 57 miles (92 kilometers) from Portland and attracts both campers and day-trippers. The Ramona Falls trail passes through a moss-covered forest of trees and lichen to expose breathtaking vistas of Mount Hood and a beautiful cascade falling over Ramona Creek.

The most difficult phase is when the route spans the Sandy River: a footbridge that originally carried hikers has long been washed away, although logs along the water may often be used to aid today. It is definitely one of the best waterfalls near Portland.

Places to Visit Near RAMONA Falls

  • Mirror Lake Trail (8.4 km from Ramona Falls trail)
  • Timberline Lodge (14.7 km from Ramona Falls)

7. South Falls and Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park waterfalls

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Following the list of top 10, Portland Waterfalls is Silver Falls State Park which is one of the biggest and among the most epic waterfalls near Portland, Oregon, and the Trail of Ten Falls is an Oregon treasure.

The route, as the name implies, goes by ten of Silver Falls State Park’s waterfalls, each of which is distinctive. The renowned South Falls, a 177-foot cascade with a single plunge, is part of the Trail of Ten Falls. Walking behind the South Falls’ cascading waters is a feature of the Trail of Ten Falls.

Silver Falls State Park, located 60 miles (97 kilometers) southwest of Portland in the Cascade Mountains’ foothills, is a popular hiking destination because of its Trail of Ten Falls. The 8.7-mile (14-kilometer) circle route is just moderately tough, and while it may become busy (particularly in the springtime when flows are highest), it offers year-round waterfall viewing.

There are several campgrounds, picnic areas, and a medieval lodge that are accessible 365 days a year. Also, there are four more waterfalls that you may stroll behind, so prepare appropriately for the possibility of getting wet but it is definitely the most epic waterfall hike near PORTLAND.

Places to Visit Near Silver Falls

  • Abiqua Falls Trail (7.5 miles from Silver Falls Trail)
  • What the Quirk, Vintage Emporium (8.7 miles from Silver Falls Trail)

8. Starvation Creek Falls

Starvation Creek Falls, Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Photo by Adi K, Pexels.com Copyright 2022

Views of four waterfalls may be seen by following a recently created portion of the Ancient Columbia River Highway State Trail: Cabin Creek Falls, Starvation Creek Falls, Lancaster Falls, & Hole-in-the-Wall Falls. All four are connected by a mile-long route that takes around 30 minutes each way, including time for picture stops all along the Columbia River Gorge.

The paved trail, which includes new bridges and overlooks in the woods along Interstate 84, is intended for both trekkers and bikers. These Portland waterfalls never fail to leave tourists in awe. Next on the list of top ten Portland waterfalls next on the list of top ten Portland waterfalls

It goes 1.2 miles to the west of the Starvation Creek parking lot, beyond the waterfalls. Another section of the path will open in the summer of 2019, heading slightly west to Wyeth Park.

The Starvation Creek path is located about ten minutes west of Hood River, well before Viento State Park. If you’re coming from Portland, travel I-84 to Wyeth and exit at Exit 55 for the Starvation Creek Trail.

Places to Visit Near Starvation Creek Falls

  • Bridge of The Gods (within 6 miles)
  • Viento State Park (within 6 miles)

9. Tamanawas Falls

Portland waterfalls
Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Next on the list of Top 10, Portland Waterfalls is Tamanawas Falls which produces a huge curtain when Cold Spring Creek storms over a 150-foot lava cliff in Parkdale, at Mount Hood’s eastern base. Speaking of Mount Hood, Tamanawas Falls offers a more natural experience because it is located on the calmer slope of this renowned volcano (along the Columbia river gorge) that dominates Portland’s skyline while facing east.

This stroll along picturesque Cold Spring Canyon has long been a favorite of families; it’s great in the summer and picturesque in the winter. Don’t forget to bring your Recreation Pass, which costs about $5 per person.

The trailhead for this 100-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide fall is a 3.4-mile out-and-back trip or a 4.2-mile circle near Elk Meadows. A parking lot is available directly off the highway. This is a renowned path for birdwatching, mountaineering, and track running, but you may still find some peace and quiet throughout the day. This route is best visited between May and September.

Places to Visit Near Tamanawas Falls

  • Crooked Tree Tavern (2.2 km from Tamanawas Falls)
  • Cooper Spur Hike (1.7km from Tamanawas Fall Trail)

10. Willamette Falls

Last on this list of top 10 Portland waterfalls is Williamette Falls. This cascade, one of the biggest in Oregon and the sixth-largest in the US by flow, is one of the state’s most notable natural features. There has been a native salmon and lamprey fishery for at least eight thousand years, dropping 35 ft from the Willamette Valley into the Oregon –West Linn basin.

These falls powered the region’s first mills and helped the creation of the Oregon Territory’s first United States government. It is definitely one of the best waterfall hikes near Portland. These falls are a wedge-block cascade formed by a basalt ledge in the river’s bed. The falls are 42 feet high and 1,500 feet broad and are located 26 miles upstream of the Willamette River’s junction with the Columbia River.

The locks that surround the waterfalls are the oldest continually working inter-barrier and waterway system in the country. Parking is located in the City Hall parking lot off Mill Street. This waterfall poses an easy waterfall hike for beginners.

Places to Visit Near the Willamette Trail

The Museum of Oregon Territory (0.5 km from the Williamette Trail)

Clackammette Park (0.7 km from Williamette Trail)

Some other Portland Waterfalls

Double Falls

The highest waterfall in Silver Falls State Park is this one in Oregon. Waterfalls are officially measured from the peak of the highest tier to where they hit the river bed. The total drop between the two levels of these falls is an amazing 184 feet. It definitely gives a breathtaking view and is easily one of the best waterfall hikes near Portland.

Tunnel falls

Explore the 19.2-kilometer out-and-back trek around Cascade Locks, Oregon. It takes a minimum of 5 hours and 34 minutes to finish this fairly difficult trip. This trail is ideal for hiking and camping.

Dry Creek

In the dead of winter, it’s difficult to locate walks in the national forest, but Dry Creek Falls is one of the best. The trek is simple, and you’ll see some big Douglas firs towards the high end of the route near Bourbon Creek.

The lush maple bottoms are especially beautiful in autumn, which is also a wonderful time to go morel hunting on this walk along the Dry Creek Falls. Keep an eye out for elk activity as well as beaver, deer, and coyote signs. Dry Creek is honestly one of the best waterfalls near Portland.

Punchbowl Falls

Explore the 7.6-kilometer trail near Cascade Locks, Oregon (along the Columbia River Gorge). It takes approximately 2 hours and 27 minutes to complete this course, which is generally regarded as moderate. Punchbowl Falls is a popular trekking and trail running location, so you’ll almost certainly stumble across other folks while wandering. The route is available all year and is a great place to come at any time, especially while visiting the Columbia Gorge.

Triple Falls

This is a particularly gorgeous walk, both on the approach to the walls and while there. The terrain is rocky throughout and may be dangerous in places. It takes roughly 1.5 hours for the typical person, including time to stop and gaze. Parking is also fairly simple.

Conclusion

Portland is home to many more amazing waterfalls. However, the above-mentioned is a must-visit! Be it the Dutchman Falls, Ecola Falls or Multnomah Falls be sure to take some time out and dwell in these scenic cascades that will most definitely take away your breath.

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