A surprising source of inspiration for outdoor lovers is Oregon’s many waterfalls. Yeah, Oregon has waterfalls, and they’re spectacular. When it comes to the great outdoors, you literally have thousands of options. But the best waterfalls in Oregon offer you something unexpected, unusual, and memorable.

America’s landscape is full of so many natural wonders that if you’re being honest, you kind of lose track of. You know that nature is beautiful and all, and that there are lots of places that you should visit, and lots of spectacular things you should see, but it’s a little overwhelming. It’s also hard to know where to turn to get ideas. You admire people who grab a backpack, and a map, and head off for an adventure, but you’ve never really been one of those people. You need a good list to work from.

In fact, what you really need is the proper inspiration to get you off your couch, off your phone, and into the great wide open. You don’t want anything too strenuous, but just a little something to get your feet wet.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, we recommend a trip to see the best waterfalls in Oregon.

The 3 Best Waterfalls in Oregon to Visit

Pick up that backpack of yours, step out of your comfort zone, and step into a world so lush and beautiful, you’ll think you’ve teleported to a tropical rainforest. Bring your camera and a good pair of boots, because you’re about to explore the three best waterfalls in Oregon.

1. Tamanawas Falls

One look at Tamanawas Falls, and it’s easy to see why it is considered one of the best Oregon waterfalls. To get to Tamanwas Falls by hiking, you can take an easy 3.6-mile round-trip trail that begins at a place called Sherwood Trailhead near the base of Mount Hood.

The 150-foot falls form where Cold Spring Creek shoots over the edge of a lava cliff onto the rocky landscape below.

The trek is an easy one, and the payoff is huge in proportion. That’s partly because most of the enjoyment actually comes from the scenic hike.

Following the babbling Cold Spring Creek affords you lots of opportunities to stop, take pictures, and bask in the wonders of nature. The waterfall is simply the icing on the cake. 

Plus, if you go early enough, before children and families descend en masse, you can actually have a little moment to yourself with nature. You can tune out the rest of the world, and just listen to the rush of the falls.

So that’s what all those nature enthusiasts have been talking about. 

Visitor summary

  • Location: Mount Hood Parkdale, Oregon
  • Open: May through October
  • Difficulty: Easy,
  • Distance: 3.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Type: Out and back
  • Visitor Type: Family-friendly
  • Pet policy: Leashed dogs permitted

What to look for

Of course, the first thing on your to-see list will be the falls, which are 150 feet high and 40 feet wide. But look for the dry cave behind the falls! Some visitors say it’s a great place to stop for a packed lunch.

You’ll also see old-growth forests comprised of mountain hemlock, Douglas firs, and red alder forest. Forest flowers like fairy slipper orchids and western wood anemone may also cross your path.

What you’ll need

You’ll want to bring a camera, of course! You’ll also need a recreation forest pass from USDA Forest Service. Luckily you can purchase it online and print it out at home. If you live nearby, you can also opt for an annual pass for a very minimal fee.

2. Horsetail Falls

Located just about a half an hour East of Portland, these falls get major points for accessibility. They are located right off of Historic Columbia River Highway. In fact, the roadside pool that the falls empty into is so close to the road that spray often falls on passing cars.

This close proximity to the highway, coupled with its unique horsetail cascade, make the falls a popular tourists destination. The 176-foot drop is impressive, and the view is breathtaking. 

This is another spot where the early bird definitely gets the worm, and the good parking spot. You’ll have a much more relaxed experience if you can beat the tourists at their own game. 

Visitor summary

  • Location: Multnomah County, Oregon
  • Open: All seasons, with exceptions for snowstorms
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 610 feet
  • Type: Loop trail
  • Visitor Type: Family-friendly
  • Pet policy: Dogs permitted, recommend leashing

What to look for

The moist surround forest supports mosses and ferns, so keep your eyes out for these lovely plants. Many visitors have complained that the trail is hard to follow, so make sure you keep aware of your surroundings to avoid getting lost.

What you’ll need

The parking area at Twin Bridges comes with a parking fee, so make sure you bring a little cash. Also, on windy days, spray from the falls can really fly. You may want to bring a water-resistant jacket. We also recommend good hiking shoes for damp rocks and slippery paths.

3. Toketee Falls

These falls are located in Umpqua National Forest in Oregon, and their name is Chinook for graceful. Once you see the falls, you’ll understand the name completely. Standing before them you might think that the only name the could suit it better is mesmerizing. 

You can experience the falls by taking an easy one-mile round-trip hike that follows the North Umpqua River and ends in an elevated viewing platform above the falls. You get a full view of the water rushing over the basalt rock columns to the clear teal pool below. 

Getting any closer to the falls than the viewing platform is treacherous, and not recommended, but it’s easy to see why people have tried. The pool looks so inviting, and the rush of the water is enchanting. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a quiet day, you just might feel transported back in time. 

Visitor summary

  • Location: Umpqua National Forest
  • Open: All year
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 420 feet
  • Trail yype: In and out
  • Visitor Type: Family-friendly
  • Pet policy: Dogs permitted, recommend leashing
The Toketee Falls are some of the most accessible and best waterfalls in Oregon

Umpqua NF Fires, 2017, Oregon. Image by U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What to look for

This may be one of the most family-friendly of the best waterfalls in Oregon, thanks to the visitor amenities. Along with a relatively short trail to see the falls, you’ll also find picnic tables and toilets.

For photo opps, look for old growth forests and ancient rock formations. Columns of basalt rock frame the two-level falls, making for a stunning view.

What you’ll need

Like any natural area featuring moving water, the trail and rocks can become slippery. Often, the Forestry Service reports on rockslides. So, you should take sturdy, waterproof boots with excellent traction.

Get Primed for Waterfall Adventures Everywhere

Now that you know of three of the best waterfalls in Oregon you have plenty of inspiration to get you out and exploring. In fact, once you cross these beauties off your list you just might end up at other wonderful spots like all the waterfalls in nearby Bend, Oregon. From there you just might turn into a waterfall junky, which means of course that you’ll go chasing them.

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