Looking for the best waterfalls in Oregon?

The Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty, including our abundance of waterfalls. And, after living in Oregon for the last 6 years, we’ve had the chance to visit as many as possible and find our favorites.

In this guide, I’m sharing waterfalls we’ve actually visited (and loved). I’ll cover important details, like whether you need a parking pass, waterfall hike details, and more. I’ll also include lesser known falls, adventurous options, and some that require minimal effort to visit.

Don’t worry, I won’t forget about popular spots like Multnomah Falls, which takes the crown as the tallest, stealing millions of hearts every year due to its impressive size and easy access from the highway. But, while we love Multnomah Falls, there are so many more waterfalls to explore in Oregon that you shouldn’t miss – such as Wahkeena Falls. 😍

dirt trail leads to waterfall cascading down over a mossy rock wall

With a whopping 238 waterfalls (maybe more!), Oregon is a true paradise for waterfall chasers, adventure junkies, and families looking for natural wonders to explore.

(For the record, I’m convinced TLC never came to Oregon. #KeepOnChasingWaterfalls 😉)

Short on time? If you want to maximize your sightseeing time, one option to consider is joining one of these top-rated Oregon waterfall tours!

Without further ado, let’s dive into planning your visit to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Oregon! 

Wahclella Falls

family sitting on log in front of raging waterfall at wahclella falls

Just a short and scenic drive east from Portland, you’ll find Wahclella Falls nestled in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. Known for its stunning two-tiered waterfall that drops a grand total of 350 feet, this is one of Oregon’s most photogenic waterfalls.

Aside from the main attraction, you’ll also catch a glimpse of other waterfalls along the hike in the distance. I counted no less than 7! 

One of the highlights is Munra Falls, a slide waterfall that is literally a couple of feet from a bridge along the trail!

two boys stand on bridge looking at Munra Falls flowing just feet away from the bridge

Entrance Fee or Pass: $ 5-day use fee or valid Pass (Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass)

Hike details: ~ 2 miles roundtrip with about 230 ft of elevation gain, this out-and-back trail is relatively easy. 

Wakheena Falls

large waterfall flows onto rocks at base of forest floor, surrounded by moss covered walls
Wahkeena Falls is just a short way up the first section of the trail.

Just off the historic Columbia River Highway, Wakheena Falls is an elegant, 242-foot, tiered waterfall surrounded by mossy rocks and lush vegetation, making you feel a bit like you’re in your own fairy garden. 

And if you want even more of that feeling, you can keep going until you reach Fairy Falls, an enchanting bonus waterfall on this trail.

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Entrance Fee or Pass: No Fee

Hike Details: Wahkeena Falls is located approximately 0.2 miles from the trailhead. The trail is paved up until this point, though still fairly steep. This is a great spot to turn around if you are on a short timetable or have anyone in your group who can’t tolerate a longer hike. For a bit more adventure (and a second bonus waterfall), we’d highly recommend continuing this out-and-back trail to Wahkeena Springs for a total of 2.6 miles and approximately 1200 feet of elevation gain. 

Fairy Falls

small, whimsical waterfall flows over rocks in bright sunlight
Fairy Falls

Along the Wahkeena Springs Trail, past Wahkeena Falls and the Lemmons Viewpoint, you’ll find a small (20-30 ft) whimsical waterfall, aptly named Fairy Falls. 

While not as large as many on the list, you’re able to see this unique veil-style waterfall up close from the footbridge at its base, which is pretty awesome!

Entrance Fee or Pass: No Fee

Hike Details: Continue past Wahkeena Falls on the Wahkeena Springs Trail for a moderately challenging 2.6-mile hike and around 1200 feet of elevation gain. 

Multnomah Falls

double tiered waterfall flows under bridge among fall colors

This must-see waterfall is popular due to its breathtaking size and easy access from the highway – not to mention it’s close proximity to Portland. It’s only a 30 minute drive from town! Not only the tallest waterfall in Oregon but arguably the most famous, Multnomah Falls plummets an impressive 620 feet in two tiers. 

Entrance Fee or Pass: Timed Use Permits are required for access from I-84 during the busiest summer months between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm. (2023 dates: May 26-September 4) Timed use permits are per vehicle (not per person) and will cost you $2 per ticket to reserve your slot. During other times of the year, there is no fee.

Hike Details: The out-and-back trail to the top of the waterfall is approximately 2.6 miles and 813 feet of elevation gain. If you’re not up for a full hike, you can take the steep (but paved) trail all the way up to the historic Benson Bridge, which offers an unparalleled view of the upper and lower falls right in the middle!

South Falls

walking trail tucked behind waterfall that plunges over rock outcropping into pool at the bottom
The waterfalls along the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park are truly epic.

While Oregon has many amazing state parks (including state parks on the beach!), Silver Falls State Park is often called the crown jewel, which is no surprise considering it hosts the popular Trail of Ten Falls. Located along this trail, you’ll find South Falls, a jaw-dropping 177-foot waterfall that you can literally walk behind. 

This unique perspective makes South Falls a standout among the hundreds of waterfalls scattered across the state (and one of my favorites)!

Entrance Fee or Pass: $5 daily day-use fee, or Annual Oregon State Park Pass

Hike Details: If you’re just visiting South Falls, you can use the North Canyon Trail. At approximately 1 mile and 200 feet of elevation gain, the trail is wide and rated easy to moderate. However, for the full experience, enjoy the famed Trail of Ten Falls, a stunning 7.2-mile loop (~1190 feet of elevation gain) that passes 10 amazing waterfalls. (Note: In our experience, you’ll track 8-9 miles by the time you complete the loop and the short off-shoots to catch all 10 waterfalls)

Toketee Falls

waterfall flows in multiple tiers over basalt rocks to aqua pool below

Located in the Umpqua National Forest, you’ll discover one of our favorite waterfalls – Toketee Falls. Known for its distinctive columnar basalt formation, it offers a double-barreled water spectacle falling gracefully down 120 feet in two stages. 

The relatively easy hike leading to the falls is beautiful, with multiple views of the North Umpqua River along the trail. 

Entrance Fee or Pass: No fee (While this site is part of the Umpqua National Forest, at the time of publish, it is listed as a no-fee site.)

Hike Details: This trail is an easy 1.0-mile round trip to the viewing platform with approximately 170 feet of elevation gain.

Drift Creek Falls

Suspension Bridge AND a waterfall?! Yes, please!!

Located in Siuslaw National Forest, this waterfall trail is about two hours from Portland so it makes an easy day trip! Drift Creek Falls is a 75 foot waterfall is located alongside a massive suspension bridge that hangs 100 feet over the base of the canyon.

I’m so excited that I finally got to check this beauty off my list! If you’re visiting in fall, it’s a great hike to catch the beautiful colors, but I think it would be great in any season.

Entrance Fee or Pass: You’ll need a Recreation Pass to park at the trailhead. Options are the NW Forest Pass, America the Beautiful, or a day pass. Note: If you plan to use a day pass, you’ll need to purchase ahead of time online – they are NOT currently available at the trailhead.)

Hike Details: The hike to Drift Creek Falls is a moderate, 3.1 out-and-back trail. The elevation gain is relatively mild at around 500 feet and was totally doable for the entire family.

Horsetail Falls

waterfall spills into pool at bottom with mossy rocks surrounding

As you might have guessed, Horsetail Falls gets its name because it looks somewhat like the tail of a horse. This 192-foot waterfall is one of our favorites to take friends and family who might not be up for a strenuous adventure because it’s accessible directly across the street from the parking lot! 

Entrance Fee or Pass:  No fee

Hike Details: Across the street from the parking lot is all that is required! But if you want a bit more adventure, you can continue on to Ponytail Falls and Oneonta Falls (listed below). 

Ponytail Falls

waterfall rushes into pool below with hiking trail winding behind

If you’re up for a short hike after viewing Horsetail Falls, we highly recommend continuing on to Ponytail Falls. After just under 0.5 miles, you’ll find this 75-foot plunging waterfall that you can walk behind! 

* Tip: Take a snack or lunch with you to have in the cave under the waterfall! 

Entrance Fee or Pass: No fee

Hike Details: Continuing past Horsetail Falls, the hike to Ponytail Falls is approximately 0.9 miles out and back with approximately 330 feet of elevation gain and is rated as moderate. 

Middle Oneonta Falls

woman looks over shoulder next to waterfall in Columbia River Gorge

Another impressive waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Middle Oneonta Falls plunges 240 feet into Oneonta Creek. If you’re already hiking to Ponytail Falls, we think it’s totally worth adding on a couple of miles to catch this beauty! 

Entrance Fee or Pass:  No Fee

Hike Details: Approximately 3.4 miles out and back with 540(ish) feet of elevation gain, the trail to Middle Oneonta Falls is a moderate hike that will take you past 3 separate waterfalls or you can do the Oneonta Trail and Gorge Trail Loop for around 2.3 miles and a little over 600 ft of elevation gain. 

University Falls

silky waterfall flows over rocks with wet logs stacked in the foreground

Nestled in the Tillamook State Forest, you’ll find University Falls, a curtain-style waterfall that cascades down a basalt cliff for 55 feet. Surrounded by lush greenery and downed trees, it’s the perfect spot for soaking up the beauty of the PNW. 

Entrance Fee or Pass: No fee

Hike Details: This trail is approximately 0.6 miles out and back with around 180 feet of elevation gain. AllTrails rates this one as moderate, but even our kids found it to be easy with the short distance.

Note: University Falls is located in the Browns Camp area of Tillamook Forest, which means a few things. 

  1. You’ll drive on forest service roads to access the trailhead. While it’s generally well-maintained, at different times of the year, the road can be a bit rough. We recommend a vehicle with good clearance and/or AWD for exploring this trail. And, as always, be sure to let someone know your hiking plans for safety. 
  2. You’ll likely encounter ATV’s or other off-road vehicles crossing the main roads. You may also hear them as you’re exploring the area. 
  3. Target practice is also allowed on State Forest Land, so you may hear noise from that as well.

Umbrella Falls 

waterfall cascades over rocks among fall colors in the Mt. Hood forest

A short hike from Mt. Hood Meadows, you’ll find the enchanting Umbrella Falls. This stunning veil waterfall cascades 59 feet into the East Fork of the Hood River and is popular year-round. The flow will be highest in spring and summer, though you can expect snow on the trail into July. 

We visited in September and it was still incredible. However, if you’d like to see Umbrella Falls at its peak, consider snowshoeing! If you’re comfortable, go on your own. Otherwise, book a tour!

Entrance Fee or Pass: $ 5-day use fee or valid annual pass (Northwest Forest Pass, or America the Beautiful) is required for parking during the summer months. In winter, you’ll need a Sno-Park Permit to park at Mt. Hood Meadows.

Hike Details:  You’ve got choices! For the easiest, park at Mt. Hood Meadows and take the short 0.2-mile round-trip trail to the falls. For a bit more adventure, and to combine this waterfall with Sahale Falls (below), this moderate hike will be approximately 4.4 miles with ~900 feet of elevation gain. Plus, you’ll get gorgeous views of Mt. Hood along the way! 

Note: Navigating the trail can be a bit tricky with numerous junctions, so best come prepared with a trail map. 

Tip: Many people start at the main parking lot of Mt. Hood Meadows. However, we started our trek at the Nordic Center and went to Sahale Falls first so the second half of the hike was mostly downhill and a bit easier for the kids. 😉 

Sahale Falls

waterfall flows in silky strands over mossy rocks surrounded by green forest

Nestled in the Mt. Hood National Forest, Sahale Falls is one of the easiest-to-access waterfalls in the area. This 78-foot waterfall tumbles 78 feet via 3 drops (the largest is 64 feet) into the East Fork Hood River. 

You can literally drive right past it or park nearby and walk back for a more leisurely visit. Or, if you’d like a bit more of a hike, I highly recommend combining a visit to Sahale Falls and Umbrella Falls via the connecting trail (listed below).

Entrance Fee or Pass: A Northwest Forest Pass (day or annual) or America the Beautiful pass is needed for parking. Depending on where you park, if you visit in winter, you may need a Sno-Park permit.

Hike Details: You can view Sahale Falls via a short walk by driving past the waterfall (on your right) to the parking area just over the bridge on the left. Alternatively, you can hike a short, easy 1.2 mile trail or do the full Umbrella and Sahale Falls Loop, for a 4.4 mile moderate hike with around 925 feet of elevation gain.

Fern Rock Falls

long exposure showing silky flow of waterfall to small stream at the base

Located right off of Highway 6, Fern Rock Falls may not be the biggest on our list, but its easy access makes it stand out. Tucked into the surrounding vegetation at the back of a large turnout, the modest 35-foot drop can be seen from the road. 

During different times of the year, the tree growth can make it harder to spot. Other times, the sun shining on the water makes it difficult to see, especially from certain angles. Plus, it’s tucked into the surrounding vegetation at the back of a large turnout. 

As a result, many people drive by without even realizing it. (But not you!)

Entrance Fee or Pass: None required

Hike Details: No hike, just a quick walk from your car. 😀

Latourell Falls

tall waterfall drops to pool below, framed by trees and leaves

Note: This trail has been closed for construction and bridge maintenance. However, west trail access to the upper falls has reopened. It is still closed east of the upper falls, but the lower trail is currently open along with the parking lot and restroom. You can check the current status here.

If you’re looking for a waterfall in Oregon that is close to Portland, you’ll want to add this one to your list. Located approximately 45 minutes from Portland off the Historic Columbia River Highway, Latourell Falls is known for its plummeting 200+ foot single drop (there’s some debate whether it’s 224 or 249 feet, but regardless it’s impressive!) 

This waterfall is also popular for photography for its stunning views as it plunges over an impressive columnar basalt wall.

Entrance Fee or Pass: None required

Hike Details: Approximately 2 miles and around 600 feet of elevation gain, the moderate Latourell Falls Loop Trail will take you past 2 waterfalls (Latourell Falls and Upper Latourell Falls). Alternatively, if you’re not up for the full hike, you can see the falls from the accessible viewpoint or take the short trail directly to it’s base.

Tamanawas Falls

waterfall cascades over rocky ledge with yellow wildflowers in the foreground

Carved into the east slope of Mount Hood,  Tamanawas Falls plunges into Cold Spring Creek with a 100-foot drop. 

Tamanawas Falls is a popular Oregon waterfall year-round. During winter, this trail is popular for snowshoeing in a winter wonderland. And, in summer, it’s common for people to cool off in the pool at the base of the falls.

Entrance Fee or Pass: A Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful pass is needed (day or annual).

Hike Details: There are a couple of options to hike to Tamanawas Falls. First, is the option we chose, which is a moderate 4.1 mile loop with approximately 964 feet of elevation gain starting at the Polallie Trailhead. Alternatively, you can take the Tamanawas Falls Trail, a moderate out-and-back trail for around 3.4 miles and 580 feet of elevation gain.

Munson Creek Falls

tall waterfall is nestled among a lush green forest

The tallest waterfall in the Coast Range near Tillamook, Munson Creek Falls drops over 300 feet in a series of cascades. Nestled within the Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site, this is a great waterfall trail for even little hikers. 

Though the trail doesn’t lead all the way to the falls, a short hike leads to a viewpoint of this impressive waterfall. Pictures truly don’t do this one justice! 

Entrance Fee or Pass: No fee or pass required

Hike Details: This easy 0.5 mile out and back trail has only 65 feet of elevation gain and can easily be done in 15-30 minutes, even with kids! 

Note: A great add-on to your visit to Munson Falls is a Tillamook Creamery tour!

Tips for Visiting Waterfalls in Oregon

Best time of year to visit Oregon Waterfalls

The best time of year to visit waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest is typically in spring or early summer. The snow has started to melt at higher elevations, and our winter rains have filled the lakes and rivers, making the flow the strongest. 

That said, if you’re willing to visit in fall or winter, the trails are typically less crowded in the off-season. 🙌 You can even snowshoe to some waterfalls in winter!  

Bring the appropriate pass (or fee)

Many parking areas to access Oregon waterfall hikes require some fee or pass. You can typically purchase a day pass, but an annual pass is worth it if you plan to explore more than a handful of days.

The most common passes are a Northwest Forest Pass, America the Beautiful Pass (which covers National Parks and National Forests as well), or an Oregon State Park Pass

I’ve done my best at listing the correct Fees or Passes above as of publish. Though sometimes things change (no fee sites may start requiring a fee), so I highly recommend that you double-check before leaving home. 

Remember Your Trail Maps, GPS Apps, and/or GPS Device

Though many waterfalls in Oregon are easily accessible and almost impossible to get lost while visiting, equally as many are the exact opposite. 

Often trails can have multiple junctions, some unmarked, and you can easily lose your way if you aren’t prepared with a map. Bring a printed version or use your favorite GPS app – I love Gaia GPS or AllTrails

For extra safety, use the AllTrails+ Lifeline feature (video below) if you’ll have data or invest in a GPS Device (This is the one we use.)

Leave No Trace

Keeping our lands beautiful and well taken care of so takes a little effort from all of us. Please remember to practice Leave No Trace Principles while exploring these Pacific Northwest waterfalls.

Wear hiking boots or shoes with good traction

Because waterfall hikes often take you close to (or even behind!) falls, the trail can often be wet and slippery, even during summer. 

It’s a good idea to wear hiking boots or shoes with good traction (like those below) to prevent accidentally slipping on mud or wet, slippery rocks. 

Best Support
Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
$200.00 $180.92

These hiking shoes from Oboz are some of my favorites! They have excellent arch support, sturdy lugs on the sole for a variety of terrain, and were comfortable right off the bat.

04/05/2024 08:16 pm GMT
Lightweight Comfort
ALTRA Women's Lone Peak 7 Trail Running Shoe
$79.95

The sole on the Altra Lone Peak is one of my favorites of any hiking shoe. It's grippy without being stiff and holds up well in dry or wet weather.

04/05/2024 08:11 pm GMT

If you’re hiking with the family, don’t forget a good pair of hiking shoes for the kids!

Leave your valuables at home (or take them with you on the trail)

As much as I hate to say it, trailheads are often notorious for car break-ins. Especially those that are easily accessible from main roads. 

Personally, we’ve returned from hikes to witness broken windows multiple times.

I don’t want this to happen to you, so please leave any valuables you don’t plan to carry at home (or in your hotel). 

Plan Your Effort Level Accordingly

Many waterfall hikes in Oregon require significant effort to experience the falls firsthand. But there are also plenty of falls you can practically drive straight up to!

For each waterfall above, I’ve included details about how long the trail is (or isn’t) to help you plan accordingly.

How to Visit with Fewer Crowds

Spring and summer weekends are one of the most popular times for viewing waterfalls in Oregon. Many of the waterfalls below are highly trafficked, and parking can be tricky at the busiest times of day. 

If you can, it’s best to go early on a weekday for the easiest parking and fewer people, especially if there’s a hike involved. However, we’ve also had luck visiting some of them later in the afternoon or evening after the mid-day crowds start to disperse.

Additional Waterfalls in Oregon to Consider

If you’re looking for a few more ideas, these Oregon waterfalls are on my list (and the map below), but we haven’t visited quite yet.

Even though we haven’t seen these in person, they are other great options to consider adding to your bucket list!

Best Waterfalls in Oregon Map

To see the exact locations of these waterfalls on a map and find driving directions, check out this Google Map I created for you. (Click here to open an interactive version.)

Waterfalls in Oregon Google Map

FAQs About Waterfalls in Oregon

  • Where is the most beautiful waterfall in Oregon? 

    Wahclella Falls gets my vote! Another top-rated contender is Multnomah Falls (but that’s the too obvious answer if you ask me 😜)

    And, if you ask 10 different people, you’ll likely get 10 different answers. 😅

  • What is the most photogenic waterfall in Oregon? 

    The obvious answer is Multnomah Falls. But because it’s often a nightmare to get a photo without a gazillion people in it, it wouldn’t be my pick for most photogenic. Instead, I’d lean towards Toketee Falls or Wahclella Falls.

  • What is the most visited waterfall in Oregon? 

    Multnomah Falls. Hands down, it’s the most visited (and most famous) waterfall in the state and attracts more than two million people every year. 

  • What waterfalls in Oregon can you walk behind? 

    Ponytail Falls is one of my favorite walk-behind waterfalls in Oregon. However, another location with several waterfalls you can walk behind is Silver Falls State Park. Here you can walk behind 4 separate waterfalls (South Falls, Lower South Falls, North Falls, and Middle North Falls)! 

    If you’re up for a more challenging hike, Tunnel Falls is another walk-behind waterfall option!

  • What is the tallest waterfall in Oregon? 

    Multnomah Falls takes the award for the tallest waterfall in Oregon with a 620-foot drop in two tiers. You can even spot this one from the highway (though it’s best viewed up close)! 

  • What is the best season for waterfalls in Oregon?

    In order to see waterfalls at their fullest from winter rains and snow melt, the best time would be late spring or early summer.

    However, we also love waterfall hunting in fall and winter for fewer crowds and a completely different look. There’s just something about waterfalls surrounded by fall colors that gets me every time. 🍂🍁😍

waterfall plummets over rock wall surrounded by trees with yellow and gold fall colors emerging

Final Thoughts on Waterfalls in Oregon

If you go to Oregon but didn’t see a waterfall did you even go?! Thankfully, you’ll never have to know! 😉

Whether you’re a local or exploring on a road trip through Oregon, pick one (or more) of the stunning waterfalls in Oregon above and get ready to soak in the beauty of the Northwest. 

Happy Waterfall Chasing!

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