These falls are simply something else, and they must be seen in person. The 3.5-mile approach trail (one way) takes you over the source waters of Sandy River, through lush, old forests, and past vistas of iconic Mt. Hood.
Ramona Falls is one of those natural wonders that must be seen in person. It is vast, and photos do it very little justice. The cascade begins narrowly at the top of a large palisade of lava rock. The water quickly spreads across the breadth of the wall before dropping delicately over moss-covered, stair-like columnar basalt. Sun and shadows create rainbows, glowing water, and other visual highlights that vary throughout the day. Equally good in summer or fall, this scenic stroll also provides a chance to cross the Sandy River while it is little more than a small stream consisting primarily of glacial runoff. After crossing the Sandy, Mt. Hood makes a stunning appearance before the hike re-enters the trees. From the Ramona Falls Trailhead to the falls, the route comes in at 7-miles roundtrip and features roughly 1,000 feet in elevation gain.
What Makes It Great
The Ramona Falls hike is a classic and a favorite among Portland hikers. For the hike, you’ll start just past the information board and you will follow the Sandy River before you get to a junction with the Sandy River Trail where you will stay straight. There is a seasonal bridge over the Sandy River, which makes this full hike pretty much only possible in May until October. The bridge was washed out August 2014, so check if it has been reinstated before you head out.
About 1.5 miles in, you will come to junction where you should take the River Side Trail #797 to the right. At 2.8 miles, you will intersection the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and should continue on the Ramona Falls Trail and at mile 3.3, you will get to Ramona Falls. Enjoy the gorgeous falls while you take a break and take the trail back the way you came.
For a delicious food and drink option, The Rendezvous Grill in Welches offers innovative food at reasonable prices. In addition to the exceptional dinner menu they have a good wine selection and incredible desserts.
Who is Going to Love It
Because this hike is relatively flat and short, it is accessible for hikers of all skill levels. The ending at the falls is well worth the 3.3 miles, no matter the struggle or time it takes to get there.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to the Ramona Falls Trailhead from Portland, take US 26 east toward Sandy and take a left onto Lolo Pass Road. Go 4 miles to turn right on Forest Road 1825, which is labeled “campgrounds and trailheads.” Stay right on the bridge over the Sandy River, but be aware there is gate here that is closed in the winter. Stay left past the road to Riley Horse Camp and the road narrows to one lane. Continue left past to road to Lost Creek Campground and after .3 miles, you will see the signs for the Ramona Falls Trailhead, which has a large parking area.