Are you looking for the best waterfalls near Portland?
Well, I’ve lived in Portland for the past 20 years and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of waterfalls!
I spend most of my weekends hiking with my husband in the abundant wilderness of Oregon. In that time, I’ve seen hundreds of epic waterfalls.
I didn’t want that knowledge to go to waste, so today I wanted to share my personal list of the best waterfall hikes near Portland.
I’m not one for small talk, so let’s get to it!
Best waterfalls near Portland
Being the closest waterfall in the Columbia Gorge to the city of Portland, this is one of the most popular waterfalls in Oregon. Everyone and their dog has seen it, loved it and told the tale.
So believe me when I tell you that this waterfall is crowded, but you simply can’t miss it.
Plunging a jaw-dropping 220 feet over the lip of an impressive amphitheater made of dark columnar basalt, this Oregon waterfall hike feels like a great reward for little effort.
An easy 2.4-mile trail leads visitors directly to the first viewpoint before opening up to a dirt path that heads uphill and gets you closer to one of the most epic waterfalls in Oregon.
From here you can choose to return to the car or hiker further uphill to Upper Latourell Falls, which I recommend you do so that you can enjoy this waterfall in all its glory.
Image from Karina & Maks (the best Oregon wedding photographers)
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Oregon to explore with kids because the viewpoint is located right off the parking lot.
The waterfall drops 120 feet between two distinct tiers and visitors can explore both via hike.
The lower trail descends to a creek before ascending to a beautiful viewpoint at the base of this iconic waterfall. You’ll pass by Bridal Veil Creek and notice what remains of the Bridal Veil Falls Lumbering Company. Read the interpretive signage to learn more about the mill if you’re interested.
The Overlook Trail is a paved half-mile trail that leads to a vista overlooking the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge. Since both trails are easy to do with kids I highly recommend making the effort them in tandem.
Image courtesy of Southern Oregon Scanner
Located next to the most popular waterfall hike near Portland, Multnomah Falls, Wahkeena Falls is an often overlooked gem by most unassuming visitors. That’s not to say the hike is unpopular though!
This waterfall hike near Portland is popular amongst those in the know, so crowds are all but guaranteed during the warm summer months.
There’s two ways to experience Wahkeena Falls, either from a viewing platform near off the highway or by hiking up to see the roaring beauty of the entire three-tiered waterfall.
I would argue that this beautiful waterfall near Portland warrants the hiking effort, so strap on your boots and hit the trail. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the falls from various points throughout the trail.
If you continue down the trail for three miles you’ll find yourself in front of another beauty — Fairy Falls.
Seeing both waterfalls would clock you in at a six mile hike, which is the perfect length and effort before hitting up your favorite Portland brewery.
Trail of Ten Falls
Of all the breathtaking waterfalls on the Trail of Ten Falls, none is more photographed than South Falls and there’s a reason for that.
Plunging to striking depths of 175 feet, hikers are allowed to go behind the thundering curtain for a unique waterfall hike that feels like a sacred privileged.
At 9,000 acres, Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon. Home to numerous waterfalls, it’s considered the crown jewel of the state park system.
The best way to explore this area? Hike the epic Trail of Ten Falls where you’ll wander past 10 waterfalls in the span of less 8 miles.
While all 10 waterfalls along the trail are worth exploring, South Falls takes the cake because of its undeniable beauty and the fact that you can walk behind the curtain of water. It’s a rush like no other and an experience you simply can’t forget.
So if you’re looking for the best waterfall hikes near Portland, Oregon, the Trail of Ten Falls simply can’t be missed.
Note: Dogs are prohibited on the Canyon Trail portion of this Oregon hike — which is where the waterfalls are located.
Image courtesy of The Dyrt
Punch Bowl Falls
Located about 2-miles into the epic Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, Punch Bowl Falls is an aptly-named and iconic Oregon waterfall well worth exploration.
More like a mythical scene than a public treasure, Punch Bowl Falls gets its name from the shape of the massive pool formation the falls plunge into.
This is a very popular watering hole during the summer months so crowds are all but guaranteed at this beautiful Oregon waterfall.
Be careful if you plan to swim here, cliff jumping is prohibited and you may be subject to a $300 fine.
Note: Check trail conditions before hiking to Punch Bowl Falls. The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire impacted this trail and it was closed for 3+ years before re-opening in 2021. Better safe than sorry, check this resource before heading out.
Image courtesy of The Dyrt
Of all the incredible waterfalls near Portland I’ve had the privilege of exploring, none has impressed me more than Tamanawas Falls at Mount Hood National Forest.
The waterfall reveals itself at the lip of an impressive lava cliff and cascades down a thundering 110 feet before reaching the chilly pool at your feet.
The best part? Reaching this epic waterfall requires a 3.4-mile hike so the waterfall isn’t as crowded as some of the other more popular waterfalls in Oregon.
Clean mountain air and a striking evergreen forest guide the way as the trail hugs the pristine Cold Spring Creek for 1.5-miles before spitting you out at a breathtaking viewpoint.
Don’t rush your time at the viewpoint and allow the magic of the moment to enchant you. You are at the base of one of Oregon’s best waterfalls, take it all in because you’ve earned it.
If a more robust trip report would be helpful, you can read more here.
Image courtesy of Jennifer Carr
Tell any Oregonian that you plan to spend a day at Mt. Hood National Forest and you’re bound to get a recommendation to visit Ramona Falls, one of the best waterfall hikes near Portland, Oregon.
Starting at the Mount Hood Wilderness area, the Ramona Falls Trail is 7 miles round trip and follows the scenic Sandy River throughout various portions of the trail.
Reaching Ramona Falls requires sturdy footwear and a sense of adventure. An old bridge that connected the trail past the Sandy River was washed out and hikers now need to cross the river by balancing on logs.
This is a popular hike during summer because of the trails proximity to Portland and the euphoric reward of cooling off next to one of the most epic waterfalls in Oregon.
Image courtesy of Hiking Project
You already know that no list highlighting the best waterfalls in Oregon is complete without mentioning Multnomah Falls.
Plunging a staggering 620 feet, this is the tallest waterfall in Oregon.
Nestled into the pristine Columbia River Gorge, an area with an abundance of waterfalls, mountains and numerous striking vistas for public enjoyment, you will find one of the most visited sights in Oregon.
Attracting international visitors on a daily basis, this waterfall is a breathtaking sight that can be enjoyed up close. Visitors are allowed to hike up to to the Benson Bridge (pictured below) for a better vantage point of the towering falls.
Meander past the rushing force of Multnomah Falls and feel the mist along the paved and easy to follow trail. The hike is not too taxing on the knees and is well worth the effort, which makes this this one of the best family-friendly hikes in Oregon.
The trailhead is is easily accessible and located a mere half-hour from downtown Portland. As such, crowds are all but guaranteed so be prepared!
More waterfalls near Portland Oregon
Can’t get enough of these epic waterfalls? Head to Bend, Oregon for a high concentration of show-stopping waterfalls worth exploring. You can see some of them in the video below!
Best waterfalls near Portland (post summary)
- Multnomah Falls
- Ramona Falls
- Punch Bowl Falls
- Trail of Ten Falls
- Bridal Veil Falls
- Latourell Falls
- Tamanawas Falls
- Wahkeena Falls
Bill Wooginowski says
Starting in spring summer of 2022 you will need a pass to drive the scenic highway in the Columbia gorhe. You can’t just decode to go for a drive at the last minute.