Photo by William Sullivan
to Ramona Falls, high on the side of Mt. Hood.
About the Hike: Like white lace, 120-foot Ramona Falls drapes
across a stair-stepped cliff of columnar basalt. The very popular
trail to the shady grotto of this Mount Hood cascade starts out
in a mossy alder forest beside the Sandy River's bouldery outwash
plain. A loop trail to the falls follows a portion of the Pacific
The difficult 7.1-mile loop to the falls gains 1000 feet of elevation.
Open last April through October.
There: From Portland, take Highway 26 toward Mt. Hood for 42
miles. At the village of Zigzag, turn left onto East Lolo Pass Road.
After 4.2 miles turn right onto paved Road 1825, and in 0.7 mile
turn right across the Sandy River bridge. Continue 1.8 miles on
what is still Road 1825, and then fork left onto Road 100 for half
a mile to a large parking area at road's end
A $5-per-car Recreation Fee Pass (Northwest Forest Pass) is required.
Tips: After 1.2 miles the path crosses the Sandy River on a
temporary bridge that's removed each winter to avoid floods. A few
hundred yards beyond the bridge you'll reach a trail junction. The
shortest route to the falls is the horse trail to the right, but
it's less scenic, so leave it as a return route.
found near melting snow, the Avalanche Lily is
one of many wonders you may encounter on this hike.
Sullivan is a veteran Oregon journalist and
author with 12 published books on Oregon travel, history
hike is in the Columbia
veer left on a path that traverses a lodgepole pine forest to the
wild Muddy Fork of the Sandy River. Here, turn right on a trail
that soon follows the mossy bank of Ramona Creek-a delightful woodsy
stream that leads up to the base of the falls. Although camping
is banned within 500 feet of Ramona Falls, a side path leads to
designated campsites to the south.
When Sam Barlow was pioneering a wagon route around Mt. Hood as
an Oregon Trail shortcut in 1845, his group ran out of time, left
their wagons on the east side of the mountain, and hiked past present-day
Timberline Lodge and Ramona Falls in order to reach the safety of
the Willamette Valley before winter set in. The pioneers who named
the Sandy River thought its milky color was caused by sand. In fact
the stream carries glacial silt-rock powdered by the weight of Mount
Ramona Falls has such a lovely shape because it cascades over the
remnants of a columnar basalt lava flow. When basalt lava cools
slowly enough, it fractures into a hexagonal pattern perpendicular
to the cooling surface. Later erosion has broken these basalt columns
into a stair-stepped honeycomb.