Ponytail Falls (Upper Horsetail Falls)

Columbia River Gorge / Portland, Oregon, USA

About Ponytail Falls (Upper Horsetail Falls)

Hiking Distance: 0.8 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-03-30
Date last visited: 2009-03-30

Waterfall Latitude: 45.58857
Waterfall Longitude: -122.06828

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Ponytail Falls was kind of like a “Mini Me” version of Horsetail Falls.

That was because this waterfall also featured the strange hourglass shape and dual chute profile when viewed from its left side.

Columbia_River_Gorge_294_03302009 - Ponytail Falls or the Upper Horsetail Falls
Ponytail Falls or the Upper Horsetail Falls

In fact, I’ve seen some people refer to this waterfall as the Upper Horsetail Falls.

In any case, what this waterfall had that its bigger brother didn’t was that we were able to safely walk behind it.

Another distinct feature about this waterfall was that it was flanked by protruding rounded cliff formations (undoubtedly produced from volcanism) giving an appearance as if there were a pair of foreheads on either side of the falls.

Although there were a few options with which we were able to combine a visit to the Ponytail Falls with other waterfalls, we did the most straightforward route.

Columbia_River_Gorge_251_03302009 - Julie approaching the Ponytail Falls looking very much like a smaller version of Horsetail Falls
Julie approaching the Ponytail Falls looking very much like a smaller version of Horsetail Falls

This meant that we started at the Horsetail Falls parking lot, and then we hiked uphill to Ponytail Falls.

As a result, this was the shortest trail connecting the two falls and it was about 0.4 miles each way (0.8 miles round trip).

The trail itself continued to go behind the Ponytail Falls as it kept on going for another mile or so before eventually hooking up with the Oneonta Trail (where Triple Falls was located).

Although we didn’t do it, we could’ve very easily turned this out-and-back hike into a loop hike.

This would have involved picking up the Oneonta Trail and heading back towards the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Columbia_River_Gorge_267_03302009 - Context of the backside of the Ponytail Falls or the Upper Horsetail Falls
Context of the backside of the Ponytail Falls or the Upper Horsetail Falls

Then, once on the highway, we’d walk back towards the Horsetail Falls trailhead along the road.

Overall, this longer loop hike was said to be 2.5 miles.


Ponytail Falls (or the Upper Horsetail Falls) resides in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area near Portland in Multnomah County, Oregon. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Horsetail_Falls_CRG_020_08162017 - Signs at the trailhead for the Horsetail Falls Trail, which actually climbed up above the Horsetail Falls itself towards the Ponytail Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_239_03302009 - Trail climbing above Horsetail Falls en route to Ponytail Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_243_03302009 - Julie continuing on the ascending trail climbing even higher above the Horsetail Falls as it went up a handful of switchbacks
Columbia_River_Gorge_244_03302009 - Looking out towards the Columbia River Gorge from the upper parts of the Ponytail Falls Trail
Columbia_River_Gorge_249_03302009 - Julie taking in our first look at Ponytail Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_259_03302009 - More angled look towards the Ponytail Falls as we were approaching its backside
Columbia_River_Gorge_261_03302009 - Getting closer to the Ponytail Falls. From this angle, we could pay a little more attention to the interesting rounded cliffs holding up the waterfall while creating that alcove that the trail used to go behind it
Columbia_River_Gorge_264_03302009 - Context of Julie hiking beyond the Ponytail Falls while I was still on the waterfall's opposite side
Columbia_River_Gorge_272_03302009 - Looking directly out from behind Ponytail Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_275_03302009 - Looking back across the backside of the Ponytail Falls from within the deep alcove
Columbia_River_Gorge_291_03302009 - Julie heading back towards the trailhead and approaching Ponytail Falls again

This waterfall shares the same car park as Horsetail Falls, which is 2.5 miles east of Multnomah Falls along the Old Scenic Hwy (Historic Columbia Gorge Hwy).

For context, the trailhead was about 32 miles (45 minutes drive) east of Portland and 30 miles (30 minutes drive) west of Hood River or 11 miles (15 minutes drive) west of Cascade Locks.

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Bottom up sweep from the trail showing this falls really is like a mini-me version of Horsetail Falls

Looking out from behind the waterfall

View of the falls from the opposite side

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Tagged with: columbia river gorge, portland, multnomah, oregon, waterfall, pacific northwest, mt hood, mount hood, horsetail falls

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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