This Columbia Gorge classic wastes no time warming up: You’ll catch awe-inspiring views of the majestic Horsetail Falls before leaving the parking lot. From the trailhead, the route heads west along the Gorge Trail before turning left onto Rock of Ages Trail and continuing the nearly 3,000-foot climb to the hike’s apex. Along this stretch, numerous side trails lead to vistas of the Columbia River Gorge.
After half a mile, turn left to take a quick detour to the picturesque Rock of Ages Arch. Less than 500 feet later, escape from the dense rainforest and hit a rocky outcrop on the spiny Devil’s Backbone ridgeline, catching breathtaking panoramas of the Columbia River and its steep, wooded hillsides.
After 2.4 miles, crest the hike’s high point at 3,000 feet and descend on Horsetail Creek Trail. Hike past several stream crossings before reaching postcard views of Triple Falls near mile 7 and the equally dazzling Oneonta Falls half a mile later. Catch your fourth and final waterfall sighting just 0.5 mile from the trailhead at Ponytail Falls. Finish the trip by returning to Waypoint 3 and turning left toward the trailhead.
-Mapped by Trung Q. Le