A short day trip from downtown Portland, this trail is always busy. Hiking Ramona Falls Trail provides a challenging, but fun hike, all with a river crossing, beautiful flowers during the spring and summer and an inspiring waterfall at the end. For those who dream of hiking the PCT, you can say you hiked a small section of it!
Hike to Ramona Falls
Miles: 7.5 R/T ♦ Elevation Gain: 1,019′ ♦ Trail Type: Lollipop Loop ♦ Trail: Easy to Moderate
We had planned a fun camping weekend with friends and it just so happened that our campsite was just down the road from Ramona Falls Trailhead. It was a must that we hike Ramona Falls Trail! I have wanted to hike to this falls for quite some time and so it felt like it was meant to be.
If you want to miss the chaos of the parking lot, people trying to figure out where the trail starts or just to have a moment at the waterfall by yourself, I would highly suggest getting there around 7 am during the peak months. The parking lot is plentiful, so there is no deterrent for people getting there whenever they please. It is pretty ideal. I would love to be able to show up in a van, have some breakfast, relax and then head out for the day. Unfortunately there is no overnight parking.
After you park, and are ready to head out, if you head towards the entrance, the trailhead is just to the left.
The trail starts out pretty flat, winding along the Sandy River, you will forget that you still have about 1,000′ to climb.
Don’t think of that yet, just have some fun. For such a busy trail, we had it to ourselves most of the time. You’ll recognize Heather and Jim (www.teamburho.com) from previous posts. We met them a year ago during the Eclipse. We immediately hit it off. Fellow RVers, athletes and lovers of hiking. We love that every time we seem to get together the focus is hiking. We have seen some amazing places with them!
Before you get too far, you will have to stop and fill out a permit. It’s free, but there are people out there asking to make sure that you stopped to fill one out. We were once told that their funding is based on how many permits they get in a year. So we filled out one for each couple.
After the permit box, continue on through the beautiful Rhododendrons and thick forest.
Not far after the permit box and just under a mile into the hike, you come to meet the Sandy River head on. We were there in June and so the river was moving pretty fast. There were many downed logs that you could make your way across. Pick and choose depending on your balance!
Just after the crossing, you are met with a big view of Mt. Hood.
Continue on and you will reach the junction where the loop begins. At this point you are about 1.3 miles into the hike. Either way, you will be hiking on the PCT (trail no. 2000)! We headed straight, or counter clockwise on Ramona Falls Trail (trail no. 797) .
It’s a gradual climb for another 1.8 miles. Make sure to take a break and see the views if you peek past the trees.
You will reach one more junction to veer left and head towards Ramona Falls. It’s less than a mile from here until you see your first view of the falls.
Then a couple steps further and slightly downhill, you see the entire falls. It was simply amazing. Surrounded by rock and moss, the initial view was jaw dropping.
The area is perfect for lunch or an afternoon snack. With plenty of logs or compact ground to sit on, you have the best view while you rest.
The waterfalls are situated so it’s easy to take an instagram worthy shot, and believe me, that seems to be what everyone is doing there. While you are planning on where your shot should be, please be mindful of the signs. This area is fragile and we want to make sure to preserve for years to come. Our footprints from climbing, scrambling, etc., can cause harm to what lays beneath.
After you have taken all the shots you could possibly take and decide it’s time to move on, head over the bridge.
Stay to the left at the first junction to head back to the parking lot.
A gradual hike down along the river, it’s another perfect spot to have some more fun.
After another bridge…
you will hit the junction to head back to the parking lot.
You will have to cross the river one last time and you have less than a mile until you are back at your car.
While some say they did the hike in 2.5 hours, which is definitely doable, I am not sure how much you can appreciate the hike. At a comfortable pace and taking time to enjoy the falls, we were on the trail for about 3.5 hours. Don’t compare time, just enjoy yourself, our time, is given just for planning purposes.
Don’t forget trail etiquette. Pack out all your garbage, it’s no one else’s responsibility but your own to pick up after yourself and our forests are not your trash bin. The hiking group heading up has the right of way. Step aside, taking a second for safety and respect won’t make you late to anywhere. However, if it is safer for you to step aside, please do so.
I hope you are able to enjoy this trail and waterfall. It is one of our favorites! Please share your experience!
Ramona Falls Trail Information
Again, the parking lot for this trail is huge! Depending on when you arrive, anything from a mini to a 40′ A Class could fit there. It does fill up fast due to a couple other areas to explore from here.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash *The only potential problem is the river crossing.
Family Friendly: Yes, very
Parking: 45.384382, -121.834093
Parking Fee: May 15-October 1 Wilderness Passes are required. More info: Wilderness Pass
Permit: May 15-October 1 Permits are required. Stop at the box on trail.
Best Time: Late spring through fall.
Forest: Mt. Hood National Forest
Other Uses: N/A
Access: Season opens in May
USDA Website for Area Status: Ramona Falls Trail
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