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Top 10 Beautiful Waterfalls Near Portland

Top 10 Beautiful Waterfalls Near Portland

There are numerous opportunities to visit beautiful waterfalls near Portland due to its proximity to the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood National Forest, and Silver Falls State Park. 

In fact, the waterfalls nearby are among the most beautiful in the state of Oregon. To get you started on your waterfall adventure, here are the top 10 beautiful waterfalls near Portland!

1. Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is one of Oregon’s most photographed waterfalls and a popular destination for locals and visitors to the Columbia River Gorge. You don’t want to miss taking photographs of this stunning view!

As the state’s tallest waterfall (620 feet), it attracts a large number of tourists and visitors on weekends and throughout the summer season.

It is 30.2 miles east of Portland and is a 33-minute drive away. Actually, as you drive up, you can see Multnomah Falls in the distance. 

A large, round viewpoint near the parking lot provides the best view of the waterfall. A paved path leads from there to a vantage point at the top that overlooks the entire waterfall as it cascades down the cliff.

Important Travel Tips

  • Although Multnomah Falls is beautiful from the street, it’s also worth the short hike to Benson Bridge. It is also possible to hike further up the falls, where the views are even more spectacular.
  • If your schedule allows, visit during the week to avoid crowds. When the weather is bad, especially when it is pouring outside, there are even fewer people.
  • Visit in the winter, from November to February, when it is usually much less crowded.
  • Wear sturdy footwear. They’re probably unnecessary for the short walk to Benson Bridge. However, appropriate shoes are required when walking to the top viewing platform.

2. Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls is an impressive, 220-foot waterfall surrounded by the stark basalt columns that Oregon is known for. The colorful falls, which can be reached via a short walk on the flat, are in fact the first waterfall stop along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

One of the closest waterfalls to Portland, Latourell Falls is notable for the bright yellow lichen and green moss that grow all around the columnar basalt rocks that support the waterfall. 

It can be seen from the trail or from a bridge directly across the waterfall. Visitors can, however, get a closer look by walking up to it if they wish.

Important Travel Tips

  • From the parking lot, there is a short loop that will lead you to the base of the falls.
  • There are two trails; stay on the downhill trail to the right if you only want to hike to the lower falls.
  • Hike the Latourell Falls from fall to spring for the best water flow and most impressive falls. Many waterfalls will be reduced to a trickle during the summer.
  • If it’s windy when you go, be careful not to get wet because the water from the falls can be carried across the hiking path along the base of Latourell Falls.
  • Prepare for mud and wear waterproof hiking boots, especially if you are visiting in the fall through spring.

3. Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil is one of the most famous and largest waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge in terms of volume of water. It’s a 30-minute drive from Portland.

A wooden viewpoint half a mile away offers the best view of Bridal Veil Falls, but you have to work for it. The short hike to the viewpoint involves several switchbacks and some elevation changes, making the way up somewhat challenging.

Bridal Veil Falls, located just down the road from Latourell Falls, has a similar two-tiered waterfall to Upper Latourell Falls but requires only a short 0.5-mile hike.

Important Travel Tips

  • To get here from Portland, take I-84 east to Exit 28 for Bridal Veil Road.
  • Stay on the trail at all times and clean your boots before and after hiking. Hikers and their dogs are common vectors for invasive seed spread.
  • The restrooms are located near the parking area – they just might not be as good as that well-modeled bathroom you have at home.
  • There are lodging options in Cascade Locks, which is 30 minutes away, as well as the charming Bridal Veil Lodge, which is directly across the street from the falls.

4. Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls is unique among the Columbia Gorge waterfalls as it begins as a white fan rushing down a cliff and gradually transforms into a creek flowing down the gradual rock slope.

The hike to the falls is only 0.5 miles long, but there are longer hikes (the longest is 1.8 miles) that provide different views of Wahkeena Falls.

Speaking of which, the best view of the falls is.2 miles up a trail that leads to a charming stone arch bridge. From there, you can choose to see more beautiful waterfalls, creeks, and panoramic views of the gorge.

Important Travel Tips

  • The parking lot here fills up quickly; if you come during the summer, when it is busiest, be ready to park elsewhere and walk.
  • Don’t miss out on the other day’s use areas along the corridor, which include a number of shaded picnic areas, a shelter with a stone fireplace, washrooms, and fire rings.
  • One of the best places to see the falls is at the trailhead, where there is a stone observation platform.

5. Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls

Because of their accessibility and beauty, Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls are two popular waterfalls near Portland. This is the final waterfall on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The falls are divided into two sections: the upper (known as Ponytail Falls) and the lower Horsetail Falls. 

Horsetail Falls, like Bridal Veil Falls, get their names from their appearance. The waterfall is shaped like a horsetail, with a skinny shape and a slight bend halfway down.

Horsetail Falls is a relaxing stop after hiking through the Oneonta Gorge because it’s right along the historic highway and doesn’t require much effort to admire (other than parking your car and grabbing your camera to take some photos).

There is a large area around the base of the waterfall that allows for some really beautiful waterfall photos.

Important Travel Tips

  • To get to Horsetail Falls, take the E Historic Columbia River Highway and park on the left, just past Oneonta Gorge. A moderate trail will take you to the falls from there.
  • This waterfall is swimmable. During the summer, Horsetail and Ponytail Falls are popular swimming and wading spots in the pools below the falls.
  • Pack a picnic and unwind at the picnic area at the base of the falls, while listening to the entrancing tumble of the falls.
  • If you have a half-hour to spare, it’s well worth going up to Ponytail Falls, which is accessible via a well-marked trail up the waterfall, and while slightly steep, it’s mostly shaded and suitable for all ages.

6. Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

The 75-foot Dry Creek Falls cascades over dramatic basalt rock formations. It’s a lovely waterfall located just off the famed Pacific Crest Trail, only two miles from the fabled Bridge of the Gods.

It takes about an hour to walk to the falls from the Bridge of the Gods trailhead or the PCT Harvey Road Trailhead. You might want to break a sweat for a while before getting to this beautiful site. 

This waterfall is about a 50-minute drive from Portland. The easy 4.4-mile out and back trail is one of the best Portland hikes and an ideal escape from the city because it isn’t extremely crowded.

Important Travel Tips

  • If you get hungry after your hike to Dry Creek Falls, Cascade Locks has a variety of restaurants. Just down the road, near Cascade Locks Marine Park, is Thunder Island Brewing Company.
  • The trail leading to Dry Creek Falls is free to hike, but parking at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead is not. The daily parking fee is $5 per vehicle.
  • Alternatively, you can use one of the available Recreation Passes to pay (Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass). You can proceed once you have displayed your pass in your car.

7. Oneonta Falls

Oneonta Falls

Oneonta Falls is situated in Oneonta Gorge,.3 miles from the Historic Columbia River Highway. 

This famous waterfall cascades over 100 feet through a narrow, high-walled slot near the mouth of Oneonta Creek. The falls, while only a short walk upstream, can be difficult (if not impossible) to reach in high water.

There are actually four falls in the area; the first, Lower Oneonta Falls, is on the opposite side of the slot canyon and cascades over stunning seaweed cliffs. 

Middle and Upper Oneonta Falls, as well as Triple Falls, is accessible above the Gorge via separate trail networks. You may want to delay buying a new car at the moment as you won’t need it much here. 

Important Travel Tips

  • The trail leading to the falls is popular, so go on a weekday during the summer for the best conditions.
  • Wear closed-toe hiking shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting wet if you plan on hiking.
  • However, because there is no trail through the lower gorge, hiking here usually entails walking through cold water that can range from ankle deep to chest deep depending on the season.
  • August and September are ideal months to visit because the water temperatures are slightly higher and the water levels are slightly lower.

8. Shepperd’s Dell Falls

Shepperd's Dell Falls

Shepperd’s Dell, which rashes under the Young Creek Bridge, is another Columbia River Gorge highlight, and even though the trail is closed, the falls are still spectacular from the viewpoint.

While Shepperd’s Dell Falls is well-known, photographing the waterfall is difficult due to the surrounding topography, so the nearby bridge (Shepperd’s Dell Bridge) often becomes the subject of visitor photographs instead.

Important Travel Tips

  • The waterfall is difficult to photograph, but if you follow the trail to the falls, you can photograph the beautiful, historic bridge.
  • Keep an eye on any small children or pets you bring along on this hike. A small guard rail at the end of the hike is all that stands between you and a fall over the falls.
  • Parking is available on the bridge’s east side, with a short trail leading to a viewpoint adjacent to the lower portion of the falls.

9. Willamette Falls

Willamette Falls

Willamette Falls is only a 20-mile (32-kilometer) drive southeast of Portland. It is a 42-foot-high and 1,500-foot-wide horseshoe-shaped block waterfall that is located 26 river miles upstream of the Willamette River’s confluence with the Columbia River.

This falls is the largest waterfall in the Northwest by volume and the 18th largest in the world. The locks surrounding the falls are the oldest continuously operating multi-lift lock and canal system in the United States.

Willamette Falls’ original shape had been compromised due to overexploitation over the years. For example, the rocks surrounding the waterfall were blasted in the mid-nineteenth century to aid in the economic development of Linn City and Oregon City.

Nonetheless, it remains one of the most sought-after and popular falls in the state.

Important Travel Tips

  • If you want to learn more about the history and significance of the falls and locks in the area, go beyond the two viewpoints along the highway. There’s a museum along the Willamette Falls locks.
  • The walk to the museum is about a quarter-mile long, so dress appropriately.
  • Museum tours are free, so all you’ll need is your camera. Binoculars can also help you see details in the rocks and wildlife surrounding the falls.
  • Amongst the available viewpoints, the 99E viewpoint offers a closer look at the falls. But to see more of the surrounding bluffs and scenery, take the 205 viewpoints.
  • The one-hour tour by small sternwheeler is available on weekends during the summer months and takes you to the base of the falls, where you can feel the spray hit your face.

10. Trail of Ten Falls

Trail of Ten Falls

It will take you an hour and fifteen minutes to get to this fall from the south of Portland. But all of your patience will be rewarded when you see the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park.

The 8.5-mile walk will take you past not one, not two, but ten waterfalls. And these aren’t just any old waterfalls; the majority of them are spectacular. 

In fact, two of them tower over 170 feet. With only about 800 feet of elevation gain, this trail is ideal for families and dogs (for most of the trails, at least).

Important Travel Tips

  • Summer is the most popular time to visit Silver Falls since the skies are clear and sunny and the weather is warm. It’s recommended to go towards the beginning of summer
  • There is no clear signage pointing you in the direction of “The Trail of Ten Falls,” either at the South or North Falls trailheads or along the trail itself. That’s why you either download a trail map before entering the park or take a picture of the trail map at the start of the hike.
  • The trail is extremely muddy, with some rocky, slippery sections. As such, wearing a pair of waterproof hiking shoes is highly recommended. Bring a raincoat as well to keep yourself dry.
  • Consider booking a room at Smith Creek Village if you’re staying the night. It is located within the park and provides a variety of comfortable accommodations.

With so many waterfalls near Portland, it’s easy to say you’re in for some of the most incredible and fascinating hikes of your life, with a payoff at the end, the waterfalls. Begin your journey with our list!

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