Along the scenic drive and the famed waterfall corridor of the historic Columbia River Highway, there is one waterfall that stands out among all the rest. Named for its characteristic wisps and tumbling tendrils of water that are pushed outward from the rounded rock face to form its namesake, Horsetail Falls plunges an awe-inspiring 176 feet to meet with the Columbia River far below. Easily accessible from the scenic highway (unlike several of the neighboring falls which involve steep and/or muddy hikes to reach their viewing areas), this is one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the region, and is perfect for all ages.
The stream that forms the waterfall actually creates two cataclysms, the second of which – Ponytail Falls, or Upper Horsetail Falls – is accessible by the short (but steep) Horsetail Falls trail to the side of the lower waterfall. The trailhead is near the viewing area and works its way up the hillside, past Ponytail Falls, and continues on through a half-tunnel in the volcanic basalt cliffside to reach the Oneonta Trail.
A Scenic Spot
Visitors to Horsetail Falls can opt for a quick peek from their car, a short walk to the viewing area, an extended hike to the Upper Falls, or a charming meal at the idyllic picnic area just to the east of the main falls. From this scenic spot you can take in the pristine grandeur of this beautiful area, enjoying your snack (or perhaps a delicious local wine) scored by the symphony of the nearby waterfalls.
Parking and Access
The primary parking area for the falls is on the north side of the highway, meaning visitors will have to take cross the road to access the viewing and picnic areas. ADA parking spots are available. To get to Horsetail Falls from Hood River, take I-84 West to exit #35 at Ainsworth. Travel west down the Columbia River Highway for approximately 1 mile until you reach the parking area.
NOTE: Due to the Eagle Creek Fire which began on May 17, 2018, the viewing area and hiking trails are closed until further notice. They are expected to re-open during the summer of 2018.
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