Sunday, August 28, 2011

Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, Triple Falls and Oneonta Gorge

The directions to reach this hike are 84 east, exit 35 be sure to take a right onto Old Scenic Highway and there is parking along the road as well as a parking lot at Horsetail Falls. 

This hike was a 2.7 mile loop and had about 400 feet in elevation change. Taking the side trail to Triple Falls adds another 1.8 miles and will take you up another 300 feet. 

The level of difficulty on this trail is "Connie Broke a Sweat Level" We went through about one and a half mid size bottles of water. 

We have been using the book 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington By: William L. Sullivan to find a bunch of our hikes. It does not list the King's Mountain trail or the hikes that we took yesterday but is a excellent book to get to give you most of the hikes you want to hit in the area. We also reference a coastal book. Both give tips on where to park and how to get there.

Today we hit a bunch of falls all found on the same loop. The first two falls are pretty easy to get to and the gorge is a park and walk in situation. Not hard to get to at all. The Triple Falls were a break a sweat hike because of the incline but not too tricky. There were all levels of hikers on these trails and even a few doing loops to see everything and get maximum work out.

The trail head greats you with Horsetail Falls. It is massive and there are lots of people taking pictures there. Some park employees handed me some maps and a Pacific Northwest Region Almanac. This was our third hike for the weekend so the incline up was a bit rough for me at the start but I had an easier time heading up the slopes to Triple Falls. I think I was just trying to keep pace with the other hikers who  were less fatigued.

Ponytail Falls has a deep cliff area behind it so that you can walk behind the falls. The rock above your head is very dramatic. The moss covered rock gorge dwarfed the hikers transversing the trail.

The next part of the trail required more exertion. It was also getting hotter. The trail up from this falls to the next was more rugged. The volcanic pocked rock added traction to the trail. Some parts of the trail dropped off into the gorge and made it a little scary passing people on the path.

Despite the number of people hiking and swimming in the area we did manage to see some nature. I spotted a Steller's Jay. I have never seen one before and found it to look quite striking up in the moss covered tree. I found a large squashed slug on the trail too. It was a greenish color with black spots. I moved the lil guy out of the trail even though I think it was toast.

Triple Falls was amazing. I had a great time snapping pictures. People were able to stand at the very edge of the falls. That is one thing that bothered me about this hike was the lack of respect because of its popularity. It seemed as if everything had been trodden upon, poked at, scratched into and touched. While standing at the top of the falls a guy whipped off his clothing and started swimming commando in one of the pools. I did enjoy the epic size of the falls here but enjoyed the quietness of University Falls.

You have to descend the trails towards Oneonta Gorge. We picked this place because we lived in Oneonta, NY and thought it would be neat to go to Oneonta, OR. As we made the decent we veered off onto a side path and saw the most stunning views of the valley.

It was nice to see all of this from this vantage point. We had come in on this road on our way to our new home. I just about fell over seeing these gigantic cliffs and cascading waterfalls. You can go off the main road and do the old scenic rout when driving but that was not conducive to U-Haul driving.

We finally finished the decent and walked along the road a little ways to the gorge. This area was crawling with people and there was a very large log jam. I just climbed up a few monstrous rocks to get a good shot and then we headed home. Over all I think it is a must see for people new to the area. It is a good hike but may not appeal to the more reclusive hiker like me. 

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