With its close proximity to the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood National Forest and Silver Falls State Park, there are many opportunities to visit beautiful waterfalls near Portland. We spent an amazing few days exploring some of the stunning Portland Waterfalls and the natural beauty that surrounds them. We’ve put together this list of the 9 best waterfalls near Portland to help you plan your own Portland waterfall adventures!
The 9 Best Waterfalls near Portland
There are 238 waterfalls in Oregon and close to 100 of these are easily accessible from Portland. Visiting the waterfalls is also one of the best day trips from Portland. We’ve included the most magnificent and intriguing Portland waterfalls in our list of the 9 best waterfalls near Portland!
Portland Waterfalls: Visiting the Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
The Columbia River Gorge, a canyon stretching over 80 miles through the Cascades mountain range, is just a 40 minute drive from Portland. The area boasts the highest concentration of waterfalls in the USA.
The Columbia Gorge waterfalls are dotted along the Historic Columbia River Highway which weaves alongside the gorge. The waterfalls are easily accessible and are located relatively close to each other making it possible to visit a few of them in a single day. There are lots of viewpoints and stops along the route and it’s a lovely drive from Portland.
Where to Stay in Portland
Exploring the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge is a fantastic day trip from Portland so it’s worth having a nice hotel to relax in after a long day of adventures. We staying in Portland while we explored the waterfalls and recommend the following hotels
- Inn at Northrup Station – where we chose to stay during our time in Portland and we cannot recommend it enough. It is colourful, quirky and perfectly located for exploring Portland. The suite style rooms are huge, come with fully equipped kitchens and are perfect for a stay in Portland – check prices now!
- Mark Spencer Hotel – this is a perfectly located hotel in the Pearl District has been recently renovated and one of the most popular hotels in town. Definitely check it out – check prices now!
1 | Latourell Falls
Getting to the Falls: A short looped walk from the car park will take you to the base of the falls.
The first waterfall on the drive from Portland is the beautiful yellow walled Latourell Falls. The lichen that grows on the basalt walls gives a yellow hue to the walls and it’s an incredible introduction to the Columbia River Gorge.
Often, water levels are low low at Latourell Falls. However, the water falls from quite a height creating a unique vista. It was a magnificent sight when we visited in late October.
Portland Waterfalls tip: If it’s windy when you visit you’ll likely get a little wet as the water on the falls can get carried across the hiking path along the base of Latourell Falls!
2 | Bridal Veil Falls
Getting to the Falls: 1 mile hike with elevation change and switchbacks
Bridal Veil is one of the most iconic waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge however you have to earn the view! The trail head beings at at the car park above the falls and descends down into the ravine where the Bridal Veil falls is located. The hike to the falls is all downhill, hence it’s a moderate climb back up to your car.
The sound of rushing water is the first indication that you are approaching the end of the trail and the full beauty of the Bridal Veil falls is easily appreciated from the observation deck.
The falls are one of the larger Columbia River Gorge waterfalls in terms of the volume of water.
3 | Wahkeena Falls
Getting to the Falls: 0.5 miles hike. There are longer hikes, the longest 1.8 miles, which offer different views of Wahkeena Falls.
Although it is possible to hike to the falls there are also viewing points located right beside the car park – great if you want to save time and see other waterfalls along the gorge. If you visit during winter it is likely that the falls will be visible through the foliage. During the summer you would probably need need to hike further up the trail as the lush trees may obscure the view.
Portland Waterfalls tip: during the winter the trails can be closed due to ice.
4 | Multnomah Falls
July 2021 update: if you wish to visit between July 20 and September 19 2021 then you will need to book a timed reservation ticket in advance. The tickets are available at 7am 14 days in advance of the visit date. A limited number of additional tickets may become available at 7am 48 hours in advance. Tickets cost $1 and can be reserved here
Distance from road: the Multnomah Falls are visible from street level only a short walk from the parking lot. It is also possible to hike to Benson Bridge and to the top of the Falls.
If you’re only going to visit one waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge it has to be the showstopping Multnomah Falls! This is by far one of the most beautiful waterfalls we’ve ever seen and definitely our favourite in Oregon. Framed perfectly by the Benson Bridge, its icy waters tumble over 600 feet to the ground.
Portland Waterfalls tip: although the Multnomah Falls is awesome from street level it’s also worth making the short hike to stand on Benson Bridge. It’s also possible to hike further up the Falls where the views are also incredible.
5 | Horsetail Falls
Getting to the Falls: the lower Horsetail Falls viewpoint is located beside the car park.
Horsetail Falls was one of our surprise favorites when visiting Columbia River Gorge. Horsetail Falls comprises of two waterfalls: the upper (known as Ponytail Falls) and lower Horsetail falls. Named due to their resemblance of a Horses tail, the falls are one of the most serene in the gorge. There is a large area around the base of the waterfall which allows for really beautiful photos of the falls.
Portland Waterfalls tip: The Horsetail Falls trail also includes the Oneonta Falls but the last part of the trail is currently closed.
6 | Shepperds Dell Falls
Distance from road: short hike down marked path to waterfall. Although the short path down to the waterfall is currently closed it’s possible to see this beautiful waterfall from the small car park or from the narrow bridge where the historic highway overlooks the gorge.
Shepperds Dell is another Columbia River Gorge highlight and, even with the trail being closed, the Falls are still incredible from the viewpoint.
7 | Fairy Falls (above Wahkeena Falls)
Distance from road: 3.4 mile round trip hike with 1,500 feet elevation gain
Fairy Falls is a relatively demanding round trip hike with around 1,500 feet of elevation gain on your way to the falls. The trail is accessed from Wahkeena Falls and ascends up the gorge walls. Due to the elevation gain this trail would suit visitors who are able for a relatively strenuous hike.
The Fairy Falls are particularly photogenic due to the way the water cascades down the rockface of the falls.
Portland Waterfalls: Visiting the Ramona Falls and Silver State Falls
Alongside the stunning waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge, the Ramona Falls and the waterfalls of Silver State Falls are more Portland Waterfalls too add to the list.
8 | Ramona Falls, Mount Hood National Forest
Distance from road: relatively easy 7 mile loop with only a little elevation change.
Portland Waterfalls tip: A wilderness permit is required from May 15 to October 15th. Permits are free.
The Ramona Falls trail passes through a forest of moss covered trees and lichen to reveal incredible views of Mount Hood and a magnificent waterfall cascading over Ramona Creek. The most difficult section is when trail crosses the Sandy River: the bridge that once transported hikers is long washed away but it’s often possible to use the logs lining the creek to help now.
9 | South Falls and Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park
Distance from road: 7.5 mile trail that passes the 10 Silver Falls State Park waterfalls. The trail has an elevation gain of 1,300 feet.
Silver Falls is the largest State Park in Oregon and the Trail of Ten Falls is an Oregon gem. As the name suggests, the trail passes by 10 of Silver Falls State Park waterfalls, each one of which is unique. The Trail of Ten Falls includes the popular South Falls, a 177 foot waterfall with a single drop. Walking behind the cascading waters of the South Falls is a highlight of the Trail of Ten Falls.