Did you know that there are more waterfalls in Oregon than any other state in the US? In fact, the Columbia River Gorge in Northern Oregon is home to over 90 waterfalls alone, earning it a spot on the 7 Wonders of Oregon list!
In this guide, you will discover how to find and hike to the best Oregon waterfalls, as well as professional tips for photographing them.
Those of you with plans to enjoy an Oregon waterfall road trip should consider reviewing our guide and itinerary to the Waterfalls of Southern Oregon. This travel guide provides the ideal road trip route with photos and information for anyone looking to photograph waterfalls in Southern Oregon.
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Best Waterfalls in Oregon Overview
There are more waterfalls in Oregon than any other state, but these are the best of the best:
- Multnomah Falls
- Toketee Falls
- Proxy Falls
- Watson Falls
- Lower South Falls
- Tumalo Falls
- South Falls
- Ramona Falls
- Oneonto Gorge Falls
- Koosah Falls
- Abiqua Falls
- Lower North Falls
- Yakso Falls
- Horsetail & Ponytail Falls
- Whitehorse Falls
- Sahalie Falls
- Wolf Creek Falls
- National Creek Falls
- Pearsony Falls
- Clearwater Falls
- Bonus: Thor’s Well
1. Multnomah Falls
Hands down the most famous and best waterfall in Oregon is the iconic Multnomah Falls, located in the Columbia River Gorge. This towering natural miracle drops an incredible 620 feet, making it the tallest in the state as well.
The multiple tiers and massive scale of Multnomah Falls makes for an impressive enough photo. The cherry on top is a bridge that splits the falls, providing a beautiful subject for our eyes to land on.
The only things that detracts from the experience at the falls are the frequent crowds and limited freedom of movement. Due to the gate and restrictions, it is very difficult to achieve a unique composition.
Nevertheless, to place this majestic feature anywhere else on the list of Oregon’s best waterfalls would surely be cause for outrage. It has even been recognized as one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.
Multnomah Falls Hiking Directions
There is no hike required to view Multnomah Falls.
Visitors do have the option of hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls, if they desire. This requires a 2.2-mile ascent with a 700 feet of elevation gain and is rated as moderate. You can also include the top of the falls in conjunction with several other waterfall loops and trails.
2. Toketee Falls
Tucked away deeply in the Umpqua National Forest, a short hike is all that is required to deliver visitors to one of the most photogenic views in the entire state.
At first glance, it almost appears as if a waterfall is coming out of a massive, fossilized tree. In fact, this basalt rock is the result of ancient volcanic activity.
The framing resulting from the columnar basalt gives Toketee Falls a unique color and texture that make it a photographer’s dream. In the fall, golden yellow leaves join the typically green scenery and add an extra bit of enchantment.
If you are planning a visit to Toketee Falls, I promise you will want to browse our guide to Waterfalls of Southern Oregon next. This guide reveals a myriad of other falls on the way to and from this one, many of which are hidden. It also highlights the nearby Hot Springs; a cannot miss on any Southern Oregon road trip!
Toketee Falls Hiking Directions
A large parking area is available at the Toketee Falls trailhead. From here, it is a relatively flat, .8 mile walk through the forest to reach the upper viewpoint of Toketee Falls.
From the viewpoint, you will notice a steep, unofficial path that descends down the hill to the base of the waterfall. This crude path is not maintained and can be dangerous, particularly when wet.
FIND THE PERFECT CAPTION FOR YOUR PHOTO: Best Waterfall Quotes for Instagram
3. Proxy Falls
Proxy Falls is one of those “bucket list” items for anyone exploring Oregon. This is the third waterfall to make the list located on the Mckenzie Pass and is inarguably the most impressive.
Photographing here is both easy and difficult. Those trying to capture the scale and grandeur of Proxy Falls will find it extremely difficult, while the creative-minded will find plenty of unique compositions to take home.
Much like Ramona Falls and the smaller Clearwater Falls already mentioned in this guide, part of the visual appeal of Proxy Falls comes from the unique path the water takes along its descent. The protruding rock seems to transform this one waterfall into numerous miniature cascades.
Be aware that Proxy Falls is only open seasonally, typically from early-June until mid-November. During the rest of the year, winter conditions make it impossible to visit.
Proxy Falls Hiking Directions
You will find Proxy Falls trail #3532 in the Willamette National Forest. Parking is available but requires a permit.
The hike to Proxy Falls waterfall is a 1.5-mile loop trail and is rated as easy, but it is not ADA accessible.
4. Watson Falls
At almost 300 feet, Watson Falls is the tallest waterfall in Southern Oregon… Amazingly, this is still less than half the size of the largest in the state!
This colossal drop does pose some challenges in photographing Watson Falls. What makes for a stronger composition is the ability to frame your photos using the creek that spills into view as your foreground.
Depending on the time of year, the flow of Watson Falls and Watson Creek can vary substantially. It is best shot in the spring when the greens come to life, while the seasonal rain and snowmelt fill the creek.
Watson Falls Hiking Directions
A large parking area is available at the base of Watson Falls. The hike to the waterfall is about 0.4-mile each way (0.9-mile roundtrip) with a “moderate” grade.
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5. Lower South Falls
This incredible cascade is just one of the beautiful waterfalls along the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park. However, it may just be the most beautiful in the bunch.
If possible, try to time your visit to coincide with the incredible autumn foliage. The peak time varies by year, but is typically towards the end of October.
Lower South Falls Hiking Directions
The shortest way to hike to Lower South Falls is to begin at the South Falls Day Use Area. Take the Trail of Ten Falls toward South Falls and walk for 0.9-miles to reach the Lower South Falls.
From here, you can continue onward to hike to many of the other best Oregon waterfalls or turn around.
6. Tumalo Falls
Central Oregon is home to most of the state’s most beautiful features. Mountains, caves, desert, you name it, Central Oregon has it!
The most famous and spectacular waterfall in the region is Tumalo Falls. A thundering torrent of water splits an open rock face before racing through the pines on its way downstream.
In addition to the featured Tumalo Falls cascade, a trail is available that follows the river and loops back around a small creek. This trail reveals double-digit smaller waterfalls dotting the way.
Tumalo Falls Hiking Directions
Tumalo Falls is visible from the parking area and requires no hiking whatsoever. However, the Tumalo Falls trail is a 6.50 mile out and back path that begins at Tumalo Falls and passes by many other photogenic waterfalls.
7. South Falls
So here is the thing about “Silver Falls”; it is a State Park that boasts TEN waterfalls along approximately 8 miles of trail. All of the waterfalls along the aptly named Trail of Ten Falls are uniquely beautiful. However, the crowd favorite is South Falls (featured above).
You could arguably put a number of the waterfalls from Silver Falls State Park on this list. However, South Falls is generally considered the most photogenic. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of visitors to this park can often make photography difficult.
To avoid crowds AND get the best light, be sure to arrive early!
South Falls Hiking Directions
The fastest way to reach South Falls is park in the South Falls Day Use area and walk the short, 0.2-mile ADA-accessible path to the upper viewpoint.
From here, you can choose to continue hiking the Trail of Ten Falls or do a loop down and around South Falls to view it from the front.
DISCOVER ALL TEN WATERFALLS: Trail of Ten Falls – Silver Falls State Park
8. Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls is located in Northern Oregon and requires a lengthy 7-8 mile roundtrip hike to discover. The journey, however, is worth it. This cobbled waterfall is one of the most unique in all of Oregon, and perhaps the Pacific Northwest.
Rather than pouring over in a large flow, the waters of Ramona Falls bump gently down the staircase of protruding rock on their way to a small pool below.
Landscape photographers will rejoice at the opportunities for creative compositions, focusing on the intricacies and independent features of the waterfall.
Ramona Falls Hiking Directions
The Ramona Falls waterfall hike is a 7.1-mile loop trail located in Mt. Hood National Forest. The trailhead is located near the Lost Creek Campground just beyond Mt. Hood Village.
9. Oneonta Gorge Falls
Unfortunately, the hike to Oneonta Gorge is currently closed and has been since a large fire burned much of the Columbia River Gorge in 2017. However, it looks like it may be reopening in 2022 on a permit system.
The waterfall of Oneonta Gorge is a gorgeous reward following a Tomb Raider-esque hike into the woods, over giant boulders, and through knee-to-waist deep waters.
Oneonta Gorge Falls Hiking Directions
The trail to Oneonta Gorge waterfall remains closed due to wildfire damage (February, 2022.) It is expected to reopen again this summer.
10. Koosah Falls
Koosah Falls is located off the same trailhead as the previously mentioned Sahalie Falls along the Mckenzie Pass. We rank this stunning waterfall much higher than its sister falls because of the beautiful green channel that frames it.
If you were to close your eyes and imagine the epitome of an Oregon waterfall, I suspect your vision would closely resemble Koosah Falls.
Koosah Falls Hiking Directions
Both Koosah Falls and its sister cascade Sahalie Falls are connected via a 2.6-mile trail that is rated as “easy” and family friendly. Both provide parking areas, but the Sahalie Falls parking area is much larger and the starting point for most visitors.
11. Abiqua Falls
Nearby to Silver Falls State Park is the isolated but impressive Abiqua Falls. Much like Toketee Falls near the top of this list of best waterfalls in Oregon, it too is framed by basalt rock which resembles fossilized trees.
This majestic fall is something of an adventure to reach. The reward, however, is absolutely worth the effort! Throughout the hike, you will be surrounded by the type of beauty for which the Pacific Northwest is known.
Abiqua Falls Hiking Directions
A vehicle with high clearance and 4WD is required to reach the official Abiqua Falls trailhead. From here, it is only a 0.7-mile hike to the waterfall. However, most visitors will have to park and begin their walk at least 1.5-miles away, creating a 4-5 mile roundtrip hike to reach the falls.
Learn more about the hike and everything else you need to know in our complete guide to Abiqua Falls.
12. Upper North Falls
Narrowing down the best waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park is not an easy task as at least half of those along the Trail of Ten Falls could arguably make the cut. The view of Upper North Falls from its base is a level of pretty that is hard to debate.
This waterfall is one of the most easily accessible in the park. It has its own designated parking area which is only about a quarter-mile away.
Upper North Falls Hiking Directions
Upper North Falls has its own designated parking area for those who do not wish to hike the entire Trail of Ten Falls. From the designated parking area, the waterfall requires a .25-mile hike each way.
13. Yakso Falls
Yakso Falls is located deep in the heart of Umpqua National Forest. It is one of those beautiful hidden gems that even the more active waterfall photographers of Oregon may not know about.
A short hike through timberland typical of the state delivers you to a large clearing where the waters of Junction Creek spill in.
From a photography standpoint, what appeals most about Yakso Falls is the large boulder at its base. This sudden bulge gives the flowing water a distinct shape. It is this “baby bump” that earned it a nickname of “Pregnant Falls”!
Yakso Falls Hiking Directions
The trailhead to Yakso Falls is located across the road from the entrance to the Lake in the Woods campground. Hiking to the waterfalls requires only an easy 1.4-mile roundtrip walk through the Umpqua National Forest.
14. Horsetail & Ponytail Falls
The Columbia River Gorge has the highest density of waterfalls in North America with over 90 in the region. Of those, Multnomah Falls is the most famous, but also spectacular are the neighboring Horsetail Falls and its upper-tier counterpart, Ponytail Falls.
Horsetail & Ponytail Falls Hiking Directions
Horsetail Falls requires no hike whatsoever with parking plentifully available. It has a higher volume of water, but is not quite as photogenic as Ponytail Falls.
Ponytail Falls requires a short .4 mile hike from the parking lot, but it is a steep hike. Still, it is worth the effort and is one of only a handful of Oregon waterfalls you can walk behind.
15. Whitehorse Falls
What Whitehorse Falls lacks in size and scale, it makes up for in its natural setting.
In front of this small cascade lie two serendipitously fallen trees, forming a perfect X. These serve to frame the entire shot as if Mother Nature designed it just for photographers.
While beautiful any time of year, you will find a bit of extra magic in the winter with a bit of a snow dusting tp create a pop of color separation.
Whitehorse Falls Hiking Directions
Whitehorse Falls is viewable from the parking area, but the best view vantage point requires only a minimal walk along a well-groomed trail.
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16. Sahalie Falls
The Mckenzie Pass has a lot of amazing waterfalls; in fact, three of them appear in this very list!
Sahalie Falls photographs as a forceful plunge of violent white water, cutting through a quintessential Oregon forest. It may lack some of the unique “character” that other waterfalls offer photographers, but it makes up for a lack of quirkiness with sheer force.
The setting is as green as can be and oozes with PNW charm. It is an easy, family-friendly walk to Sahalie Falls and on the same trail as Koosah Falls.
Sahalie Falls Hiking Directions
The viewpoint for Sahalie Falls is located only a few hundred yards from the parking area. However, visitors can walk further along a 2.6-mile loop trail to discover additional views and eventually will arrive at Koosah Falls downstrem.
17. Wolf Creek Falls
What makes Wolf Creek Falls such an appealing destination for waterfall photography is the twisting braids at the base of the falls. The water plummets inauspiciously down as it does in so many other places, then suddenly corkscrews at the bottom.
There is something extremely visually satisfying about its shape, framed by dark, shadowed woodland and bright, mossy greens.
Wolf Creek Falls Hiking Directions
The hike to Wolf Creek Falls is 1.2-miles each way (2.4-mile out and back) from the trailhead, which begins at a small footbridge. This is an easy hike that follows a stream through the wilderness.
18. National Creek Falls
National Creek Falls is located near the South Entrance to Oregon’s only National Park – Crater Lake. Despite 700K+ visitors to Crater Lake each year, this fantastic display of roaring water is one of the least-visited waterfalls in Oregon.
Access can be extremely difficult in the winter months, and fallen trees will often obstruct clear views of the falls. Accordingly, National Creek Falls is best visited in the spring and summer months.
National Creek Falls Hiking Directions
To hike to National Creek Falls, take the forest road NF-6530 off of Hwy230. Parking is limited but available at the National Creek Falls trailhead. The hike to the waterfall is a 0.7-mile one-way trek with a slight elevation gain.
19. Pearsony Falls
Only the native Southern Oregonians will recognize this gem, hidden outside the small town of Prospect without so much as a signpost to alert passersby to its existence.
Pearsony Falls is another small but beautiful waterfall. Like many in this guide, vibrant greenery and moss adorn the scenery. In the fall, however, much of those greens transform to a terrific golden yellow, breathing new life into an already majestic slice of natural beauty.
Pearsony Falls Hiking Directions
Use Google Maps to find the large but unmarked parking area for the Pearsony Falls trail. From here, the walk to the waterfall is only about a quarter-mile each way with no elevation gain.
DISCOVER THE PERFECT SOUTHERN OREGON WATERFALLS ROAD TRIP
20. Clearwater Falls
The aptly named Clearwater Falls is located in the heart of the Umpqua National Forest. Its crystal-clear waters flow gracefully betwixt moss-covered stones and fallen pine.
While Clearwater Falls is not the largest, most imposing cascade you will find in Oregon, the vibrant greens and tumbling water come together for a nice overall composition.
Clearwater Falls Hiking Directions
Clearwater Falls is visible from the parking and picnic area. No hike is required.
BONUS: Thor’s Well
One of my favorite places to photograph in all of Oregon is the dramatic, oceanic phenomenon known as Thor’s Well. This is technically a collapsed sea cave. However, the effect that is created during high tide is akin to an ocean waterfall; perhaps the only one of its kind found anywhere in the world!
While I highly recommend a visit to this incredible place, I also recommend extreme caution be taken. I have personally had two cameras perish via salt-water death, but I love the scene too much to not come back.
To fully understand how and when to photograph here, and for more photographic inspiration, queue up our Ultimate Guide to Thor’s Well.
Photographing the Best Waterfalls in Oregon
While it is possible to capture long exposure photographs of waterfalls on your iPhone using the Live Mode option, for the best possible photos you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:
- Camera: I use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo I took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Lens: The lens I use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. I also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you want to create a long exposure waterfall image. When traveling, I use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when I require something more stable, I use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on the water. The best CPL and ND filters I have found are the quartz line from Polar Pro.
I have also put together a complete guide for photographing waterfalls where you can learn more about the equipment I use, composition and other techniques for capturing beautiful photos.
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Other Oregon & PNW Guides
We have a variety of guides for the Pacific Northwest that you may also find helpful, as well as instructional guides for learning photography.
Additionally, you are welcome to browse our Oregon professional photography gallery for prints and more inspiration.
- All the Best Things to Do in Oregon: The ULTIMATE Guide
- The Official 7 Wonders of Oregon Ultimate Guide
- Best Places to Visit in Oregon
- Trail of Ten Falls – Silver Falls State Park
- Southern Oregon Waterfalls Guide & Roadtrip Itinerary
- Top 10 Photo Locations on the Oregon Coast
- Painted Hills of Oregon Guide (one of the 7 wonders of Oregon)
- Thors Well Guide (an Oregon hidden gem and world wonder!)
- Southern Oregon Coast Photography Guide
- Best Places to photograph in Southern Oregon
Instructional Guides to Photography
- Photography Basics
- Long Exposure Waterfall Photography
- Lightroom for Beginners
- Advanced Post-Processing
Final Thoughts on the Best Waterfalls in Oregon
With over 200 waterfalls in Oregon, it was hard to narrow it down to a top 15 list! We hope this guide will help provide you with some inspiration and encourage you to go chases those waterfalls. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed!
Being a fellow waterfall lover, you may also enjoy our collection of Inspirational Waterfall Quotes.
As always, we truly appreciated feedback – good or bad! And if you have a favorite I’ve missed, let me know in the comments below!