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10 Hiking Safety Tips You NEED to Know Before You Go
(Including the App that Could Save Your Life)

Ramona Falls Hike, One of the Most Beautiful Waterfall Trails in Oregon

If you’re looking for one of the most stunning waterfalls in Oregon, Ramona Falls, sitting in the shadow of Mount Hood, may just take the cake. But to reach this jaw-dropping waterfall, with countless streams cascading down a rocky cliff, you’ll have to go on an adventurous hike, with some funky obstacles that you’ll need to be prepared for along the way. Here’s everything you need to know about the Ramona Falls trail, one of the best waterfall hikes in Oregon.

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Couple walking along footbridge along the Ramona Falls trail in Oregon
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About the Ramona Falls Hike

  • Distance: 8.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,112 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate (mostly due to the length)
  • Dog friendly? Technically yes, but unless you know that your dog is good at balancing on a narrow log, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ll talk about this a bit more below, but you’ll need to cross a rushing river on a fallen log that’s suspended a few feet in the air.

    When my husband, Justin, and I hiked this trail, I saw some dogs cross the log by themselves just fine, but I also saw other hikers whose dogs were too scared to cross by themselves. These dogs’ owners came up with very, shall we say, interesting ways of carrying their dogs across the river, ultimately putting their own safety (and the dogs’) at risk.
Man crossing over a log bridge on the Ramona Falls trail in Oregon
  • Pass: From May 15th through October 1st, you’ll need to have either a Northwest Forest Pass or valid interagency pass, like my beloved America the Beautiful Pass, which–for $80–provides unlimited annual access to all of the U.S. National Parks and over 2,000 federally managed recreation sites (including Mount Hood Wilderness, where Ramona Falls is located).

How to Get to the Ramona Falls Hike

The Ramona Falls trailhead is located here, in Rhododendron, Oregon, to the west of Mount Hood and a little over an hour east of Portland. 

Regardless of which direction you’re coming from, the road will be decent and paved most of the way there, but the last seven or so miles is along unmaintained and potholed national forest roads. While you could maaaaybe make it here with a sedan, some good driving, and a bit of luck, I’d strongly recommend coming here with a high clearance, four-wheel drive car, if you can swing it. Either way, make sure you have a spare tire and know how to change it yourself as cell service is limited here.

Black SUV driving down potholed national forest road in Oregon

The parking lot is quite large, holding at least 100 cars, but if you’re coming on a summer weekend or holiday, you may want to get here on the early side to make sure you can snag a spot at this popular trail.

What to Expect Along the Ramona Falls Hike

From the trailhead, the lollipop trail (i.e., where a loop sits at the end of an out-and-back trail) will start snaking its way through a dense pine tree forest. As you start hiking, the trail will slope gently upwards—while you’ll gain over 1,000 feet along the trail, the incline is incredibly gradual and consistent throughout the hike, so it’s pretty manageable for all types of hikers (it weirdly enough feels pretty flat most of the way!).

Woman hiking along the Ramona Falls trail in Oregon

About 0.2 miles in, you’ll pass a large boulder near a permit box, where you’ll need to register for a free wilderness permit. 

Continue on the sandy trail until 1.3 miles in, where you’ll reach the banks of the Sandy River, with an incredible view of Mount Hood looming to your left hand side. Here, you’ll either have to ford across the river or walk across one of the fallen logs that have been repurposed as a makeshift bridge. When I hiked here, someone had added a rope to the makeshift bridge, which helped provide a bit of stability, but it was still a bit freaky, balancing several feet above the icy waters below. 

Woman crossing the Sandy River along the Ramon Falls trail in Oregon

The river is typically lower in the mornings than in the afternoons, due to the increased snowmelt, and it’s usually much more manageable to cross from mid-summer and fall, as compared to the spring or early summer. That being said, be extremely careful when crossing the river, regardless of the time of year, and do not cross if the river is too high. Multiple people have actually drowned here when the water level was too high and I can confirm that, while very pretty, Ramona Falls is definitely not worth dying over.

Once you’ve crossed the river, you’ll head up the sandy embankment and continue along the trail. Shortly thereafter, you’ll reach the Pacific Crest-Sandy River Trail Junction. Keep left to continue along the trail, which follows along the babbling Ramona Creek

Rhododendron bloom

Soon, you’ll reach a sign for the Ramona Falls-Pacific Crest Trail junction—here, you’ll keep right.  Continue straight on the lush and shaded path to the falls, enjoying peekaboo glimpses of Mount Hood through the trees, the mossy banks of the Ramona Creek, and tons of beautiful wildflowers, including rhododendron.

After 3.9 miles, you’ll finally reach Ramona Falls, which cascades 120 feet down a wall of columnar basalt, creating seemingly endless tiny streams down the cliffside. Add in the rustic little footbridge in front of the falls and it’s hard to picture a more gorgeous waterfall.

Couple standing and looking at Ramona Falls in Oregon

When you’re done admiring the view, you could theoretically treat Ramona Falls as an out-and-back trail and simply retrace your steps back to the trailhead. Alternatively, continue straight on the trail, which loops back through a shadier section of the forest, with lots of primeval ferns and lush moss along the way.

About 6.4 miles in, you’ll end back up at the Ramona Falls- Pacific Crest Trail junction and from here, you’ll simply retrace your footsteps back to the trailhead.

Other Frequently Asked Questions about the Ramona Falls Hike

When can I hike the Ramona Falls trail?

The trail is generally mostly snow and ice-free from mid-May through October; however, as mentioned above, hiking this trail in the spring and early summer can be dangerous, due to the high water level of the Sandy River.

Woman with a backpack looking at Mount Hood from the Ramona Falls trail in Oregon

If you’re interested in hiking Ramona Falls in the winter, the trail is technically open year-round, but, once there’s about a foot or so of snow on the ground, Forest Road 1825 is gated at the Sandy River for cross-country skiers. So, from around the beginning of December through the beginning of April, you should plan to have a few extra miles (roundtrip) tacked on to your hike. I’d suggest bringing along microspikes and snowshoes (here’s the pair Justin has and here is the pair I use) during this time. 

And not to beat a dead horse, but please be careful when deciding whether it’s safe to cross the Sandy River—Ramona Falls will always be there!

Should I hike the Ramona Falls trail as an out-and-back hike or a loop?

Some people wonder whether they should treat Ramona Falls as an out-and-back trail, retracing their steps from the falls back to the trailhead, instead of completing the loop. 

You’ll hike the same distance either way, so it won’t make a huge difference which route you choose. That being said, I personally like to see and experience as much new scenery as possible, so I’d recommend treating this as a loop trail (the northern half of the loop is stunning!). 

Trees with dappled lighting along the Ramona Falls trail in Oregon

Is there anything else I should know about visiting the Ramona Falls trail?

Yes, you likely won’t get cell service here, so I’d suggest downloading offline maps on Google Maps and AllTrails before you head here. You’ll need AllTrails+ to download an offline map, but luckily, you can get a 7-day free trial, PLUS our awesome readers get a sweet 30% off discount—just use the code “Uprooted30” at check out! 

Woman looking at sign along the Ramona Falls trail in Oregon

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your AllTrails account to the paid version (I know it took me, like, five years to make the jump), we wrote a whole post about whether an AllTrails+ account is worth it).

What else is there to do around Ramona Falls?

Ramona Falls is one of many incredible Mount Hood hikes found in this area of Oregon. Some other ones that I love include:

  • Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain, a 9.0-mile hike, with 1,709 feet in elevation gain, with epic views of Mirror Lake and above, the snow-capped peak of Mount Hood
  • Tamanawas Falls, a 3.4 mile hike, with 580 feet elevation gain, to a beautiful 100-foot waterfall cascading over a basalt cliff below.
Couple sitting on a rock at sunrise overlooking Mount Hood in Oregon

You’re also close to several incredible destinations, like the Columbia River Gorge, which, with NINETY(!!) waterfalls on the Oregon side alone, there’s no surprise that it’s one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. Alternatively, there’s tons of things to do in Hood River, a small town along the Oregon side of the Columbia River, located a little over an hour from the Ramona Falls trailhead.

Now, lace up those hiking boots and hit the Ramona Falls trail, one of my favorite hikes in all of Oregon! Do you have any questions about the hike? Let me know in the comments below!

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