Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oneonta Narrows: Wading Through Heaven

Who knew walking in water could be such a worthy adventure?
Dump the crowds at busy Multnomah Falls in the late spring or summer and wade up a narrow, green gorge to waterfall paradise.
Oneonta is east of Multnomah Falls and is the second-to-the-last stop (heading east) on the scenic highway. 
You should wear aqua shoes, or old shoes and shorts and make my own trail up the narrows themselves. Start at the Oneonta Bridge, near the Botanical Gardens sign.
Wading in the water is the key here, but be aware that the river may be too deep and swift in the early spring for a safe passage. The water is cold, but not that bad in the summer.
If you don't want to get wet you can walk a few hundred yards up the gorge (and still catch some of its flavor) by stepping from rock to rock, or log to log, and along the side of the stream.
Sadly, the Forest Service rarely cuts fallen logs any more, like they used to. The start of the gorge here is a maze of fallen logs to negotiate through.
It's about 600 yards up the river to a narrow 100-foot waterfall. Although this distance is small, walking in the water, to get solid footing (and also to enjoy the botanical view), is slow. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the waterfall and return.
The water is so clear that you can see small fish. Water drips down from rocks above in the most narrow places.
The tricky part comes 100 feet before you reach the waterfall when the gorge narrows to eight feet in width. Here the water gets waist deep, though it is not swift in the summer. At this point some prefer to negotiate above the water, on the right side, by clinging to rocks and choosing careful spots to step and get a hand hold.
The narrows offer an unusual and unforgettable hiking experience. This hike/wade is a must, especially for outdoor lovers with little spare time to spend in the gorge.

If you've ever hiked the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park or if you can't because of the long length of that trek, this short water hike may be for you. This is a mini version of that hike, but even narrower and with greenery.

 Note: Do not confuse this water hike with the actual Oneonta Trail, located to the west. This is a steep dirt trail, starting several hundred yards west of the Oneonta Narrows. It climbs about 1,000 feet on switchbacks and 1.7 miles to Triple Falls, another highly photographed waterfall that's true to its name.

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