Horsetail Falls, Columbia River Gorge
After stopping at Crown Point (you can read about it in the last post), one of the scenic spots along the Corbett to John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor, my friends and I kept traveling along Highway 30 toward The Dalles.
While traveling along the Scenic Corridor you pass a number of waterfalls, all of them impressive. One of them is the well-known and frequently visited Multnomah Falls, but the others, while not as well-known or as high, are still sensational. Of the eight noted on the map of the Historic Columbia River Highway, most are quite visible from the road.
Now I have bragged about my great state of Oregon before, and here I go again. According to the experts in the State Parks department, “The Columbia Gorge presents the greatest concentration of high waterfalls in North America.” How cool is that?
On this trip we decided to stop at Horsetail Falls. As it is easily seen from the road, we merely pulled to the shoulder, hopped out and began snapping photos. While looking at information signs we learned that with a short half mile hike along Horsetail Falls Trail we could take in the upper Horsetail Fall, as known as Ponytail Falls, as well. Those of us game for a short hike up a moderately steep path decided to go for it. It was worth it!
The hike begins at the lower part of Horsetail Falls. Staying right straight on the rock, the water falls off lower Horsetail Fall in a quintessential “horsetail” fashion, creating a wide misty spray as it enters the pool below. This type of flow is called a “horsetail” because it “spreads out to resemble a horse’s tail while maintaining some contact with the underlying bedrock surface,” according to the lovely and informative signs put out by the helpful and knowledgeable State Forest Service staff. There is a coble-stoned viewing area where you can take in it, complete with the roar in your ears and the mist on your face.
The trail meanders up and through the forest, poison oak, ferns, rocks and wild flowers. Made of mostly compacted dirt and gravel, it rises and winds along with gorgeous views of the Gorge. Then around one bend, you suddenly see the upper portion of Horsetail Falls – Ponytail Falls. As a “plunge” type waterfall, which as the type name indicates, the water plunges over a rock cliff into a rocky pool before flowing down as a short river and falling as the lower portion. The trial leads under the rock cliff and onto other falls. We made this a destination hike, and after admiring the upper portion, proceeded to hike back down the way we came.