Oneonta Falls (Middle)
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Oneonta FallsWhat’s to Love: Adventurous parents will love this hike – it offers a bit of excitement with some stiff climbs (short), steep drops (careful! No barrier), but it’s still pretty safe for most kid-hikers. At 2.7 miles round trip, the distance on this hike is just right for most family members. Plus, there are many options, if things don’t work out with the longer hike.

Bridge near Oneonta FallsThings can get a bit confusing with this hike. According to my research, there is a lower, middle and upper Oneonta Falls. To get to the lower falls, you will need to hike up the creek at Oneonta Gorge, which can be tricky; however, for older kids this could be a lot of fun. This hike is described in “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon” by William Sullivan.

Oneonta Falls - exploring the rocks and pools for waterbugs and aquatic life“Middle Oneonta Falls,” is a 2.7 mile loop hike, and for most people, when you say “Oneonta Falls, it’s actually the middle falls to which they are referring. The upper falls are 1/4 mile beyond the middle falls (hard to find and the true Oneonta Falls), and a mile beyond the middle falls lies the spectacular “Triple Falls.” This hike is not recommended for smaller children.

Trail at Oneonta FallsOn your way to Oneonta, you will park near “Horsetail Falls,” and you’ll walk behind “Ponytail Falls,” which is pretty cool for little kids. Once you make it to Oneonta Falls, you’ll be in the heart of the Oneonta Gorge. Inside this gorge, there are plenty of rocks on which to play. My son loved exploring the small pools created around these rocks. Primarily, he was looking for waterbugs and/or other forms of aquatic life.

Hiking around at Oneonta FallsCaveats: The hike may be a bit much for small kids and early walkers. At one point, off the main trail, there is a viewpoint-loop with no barrier.  If your kids stay on the main trail, there will not be a problem, but make no mistake, this is a cliff-edge.  Therefore, toddlers who may wander while walking should be carried through this section, or watched very carefully.

Website: Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest

Distance from Portland: Within 45 miles of downtown Portland

Recommended Ages: The lower and upper hikes are best for kids 10 and older. Oneonta (Middle Oneonta) is a great hike for the whole family. You will need “transportation-assistance” for young hikers.

Parental Stress Factor: It’s only stressful near the viewpoint with no barrier. Otherwise, this is a pretty low-stress event.

Physical Difficulty: It’s rated easy in most guides; however, if you’re carrying a child, it will obviously be a bit more difficult.

Family Fun Factor: High – all the little wade pools and rocks make this a fun place to explore with your kids. Sometimes, the hiking can be a chore for kids, but once they get to the middle falls, they will have plenty of opportunities for play.

Pet Friendly: This is a good hike with a dog. Again, please be careful around the viewpoint.

Weather Considerations: On a very hot day, this is a great destination. There will be plenty of shade in the narrow gorge, and the water is nice and cool for wading.

Hiking around at Oneonta FallsInsider Info: When in this geographic location, you’re basically in waterfall wonderland. There are so many waterfalls to explore within 10 miles, and the northwest showpiece – Multonomah Falls is just down the road. Plus, the Bonneville Dam is very close. If you bring a lunch or snacks, you may want to have them along the trail. The gorge area is a bit rocky and hilly for a comfortable seat!

Exploring the rocks at Oneonta FallsFamily Tips: We did this hike with our 3 year old son walking much of the trail. At times, we pushed him in our jogging stroller. We’re pretty aggressive with the stroller, but it’s probably not your best bet for a child carrier. If you have a backpack carrier, this is much better considering the terrain. We often bring the stroller, because it’s WAY easier to get our son in and out of it. He often cannot make up his mind if he wants to walk or not!

Technorati Tags: Oneonta, Oneta Falls, Onetta Falls, Horsetail falls, Gorge hiking, Columbia River Gorge, waterfalls

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