With some of the best waterfall hikes in the Pacific Northwest less than an hour from town, Portland residents and visitors don’t have to travel far to get close to nature. High levels of rainfall combined with the region’s majestic mountains and radiant rivers foster an area full of awe-inspiring waterfalls for your viewing pleasure.
The promise of a waterfall is often the inspiration and motivation for local adventure seekers—and most Portland-area hiking trails don’t disappoint. If you’re hoping to spend a day chasing waterfalls, here are some great places to start:
(40 minute drive from Portland)
Oregon’s famed Multnomah Falls is a hike and a sight not to be missed. The 620-foot fall is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. Many interstate passersby will pull over to get a glimpse of the falls from the bottom. However, hiking to the top of the falls and continuing the Wahkeena Falls loop (6.3 miles) is definitely worth the trek. I like to arrive early, hike the loop, then end with brunch in the Multnomah falls lodge.
(1hr 14min drive from Portland)
Ramona falls is a popular hike among outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels thanks to its close proximity to Portland, easy trail and beautiful 120-ft waterfall climax. Located on the western flanks of Mt. Hood, the 8-mile loop trail to Ramona Falls offers hikers a great variety of landscapes. The first half of the loop takes you along the Pacific Crest Trail, and the other half is the official Ramona Falls hike that boasts lush green forests. One thing to note: at the beginning of the hike you will need to forge a small river. There used to be a bridge, but it got wiped out by a storm in 2014. However, large fallen tree trunk give you the work as a makeshift bridge for you to walk (or, for the less-balanced, crawl) across.
(40 minute drive from Portland)
The Triple Falls loop in the Columbia Gorge is one of the more popular (Oregon side) hikes in the area. As the name suggests, the 4.5-mile loop takes you past three stunning waterfalls, including one that you can actually walk behind. In addition to rivers and waterfalls, the hike also boasts views of the Oneonta and Columbia River Gorge. Visitors love this hike for its proximity to Portland.
(45 minute drive from Portland)
Punchbowl Falls has been a popular Columbia Gorge hiking destination since the completion of the Eagle Creek Trail in 1919. The four-mile trail (two miles in, two out) takes hikers behind waterfalls and along cliffs as it traverses up Eagle Creek canyon. The trail can get a little sketch (for lack of a better word) in a couple of places, with a steep drop off and narrow trail. At the end of the hike, a short spur trail drops to Punchbowl Falls, where wading over shallow waters and smooth rocks is required to see the falls (bring water shoes).
(1hr 18min drive from Portland)
Why settle for one waterfall when you can have 10? Though this hike is a little farther than the others, it is sure to satisfy your waterfall appetite, and give you access to some of the best waterfalls in Oregon. Silver Falls State Park (the Trail of 10 Falls) takes hikers above, below, and behind waterfalls of all sizes. The full loop is about 6.9 miles, but for shorter treks, you can take shortcuts to make the hike 5.1 miles or 2.8 miles.
Panther Creek Falls
(1hr 20min drive from Portland)
Located in Washington just north of the Bridge of the Gods, Panther Creek Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. From the newly constructed viewing platform, hikers can enjoy the stunning view of two streams merging together to form the beautiful wall of cascading water that makes up Panther Creek Falls. In total, the falls drop about 136 feet.