hike: Triple Falls in the winter

My first hike of the year was to visit an old favorite, Triple Falls. I hadn’t been here since 2016, before the devastating wildfires in September 2017. And I’d never seen it with snow and ice.

The first highlight is seen at the trailhead – Horsetail Falls.

Horsetail Falls - Triple Falls hike

Like most hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, it wastes no time in climbing and doesn’t take long before you can look down at your vehicle in the parking lot.

Triple Falls hike

Fortunately, there are also better views, like those of the Columbia River. Beacon Rock and Hamilton Mountain can be seen in the distance.

view of the Columbia River from the trail

Another highlight of this trail is getting to walk behind Ponytail Falls, also known as Upper Horsetail Falls. Fortunately, the icicles didn’t fall down on us as we passed under them.

Ponytail Falls Ponytail Falls view from behind Ponytail Falls

After Ponytail Falls, the trail heads back towards the Columbia River and expansive views.

view of the Columbia River

This section of trail was rebuilt after the wildfire, with new switchbacks and rock steps – thanks to the many trail crews that worked to reopen this trail.

icy trails

Icicles clung to every cliff face, with water dripping down behind the ice.

icy trails icicles

So glad to have microspikes on this day! I wouldn’t attempt these conditions without them.

icy rock steps

One more big view before the trail heads back into the woods.

view of Columbia River

Sometimes the ice was super slick, even with microspikes. I had some fun sliding down a couple of sections.


Heading towards Triple Falls, the devastation from the fire was clearly evident. Almost no trees survived in this area.

on the trail to Triple Falls

Triple Falls with snow

Triple Falls

Just past Triple Falls, a new bridge spans Oneonta Creek.

bridge past Triple Falls

So many burned trees…

burned forest

While I understand that wildfires can be healthy for the forest, it was difficult to see how much of this area has been changed. I’ll need to come back in the spring and hopefully see the progress the undergrowth has made.