Horsetail Creek

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Horsetail Creek Canyoneering Canyoning Caving
The exploration of this location has not yet been documented
All information is unverified estimation
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Horsetail Creek Banner.jpg

Raps:‌2+, max ↨170ft
Descent: ⟷0.6mi ↓869ft
Condition Reports:

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Best season:
July-Sep (avg for this region)


Updated: July 2020. This creek was overrun by the Eagle Creek wildfire in Sept 2017. While the area has reopened, please use extreme caution when descending the creek. Between landslides, fallen trees, and loose rocks, this area may be very unstable and dangerous for some time to come. The canyon may have changed dramatically. Do not rely on the beta below being accurate.

This canyon has yet to be descended, but a preliminary scouting trip produced positive results. The lower section of the canyon (including Horsetail and Ponytail Falls) can be accessed via an unmaintained trail on the east side of the drainage (aka Rock of Ages). The upper section of the canyon has yet to be scouted, but based on existing data it may harbor a good technical section with multiple waterfalls.

The checkpoint for this canyon is the main Horsetail Falls visible from the parking area. Water is known to flow in abundance in this canyon even late in the season. Horsetail Falls flows through a narrow chute which might be dangerous to rappel at high flow. Ponytail Falls is narrower and overhung, making it even more powerful. If you don't feel comfortable with the water flow, consider building anchors to rappel next to it rather than within it.


Rock of Ages Trail

Best access to the upper reaches of the Horsetail Creek drainage is via the unmaintained Rock of Ages Trail which proceeds up the east ridge of the canyon to meet with the Horsetail Creek Trail at about 3000ft elevation. From here it is possible to drop into any of the three forks of upper Horsetail Creek. These forks are just a little over 0.5mi in length, but may have technical sections (?). The north fork has the most potential with a slope of 1500ft/mile followed by the south fork at 1000ft/mile. Waterflow will be lower in the forks, possibly 1/2 to 1/3 the flow visible from the parking area.

  • A short spur trail diverges near the bottom of the Rock of Ages and leads right over to the top of Ponytail Falls. This is the easiest way to run the bottom section of the canyon.
  • Further up another trail leads off climber's left to a natural arch right up on the crest.

Russ Jolley Trail

An unofficial unmaintained trail climbs up the west sdie of the canyon. The trail leads along through lush forest for some time before dropping down to cross Horsettail Creeks at approx. 45.5842, -122.0630 and elevation 950ft. This is another possible way to descend of the lower section of the canyon. It is not clear there are any significant drops on the creek between the crossing and Ponytail Falls, however. Past the crossing, the Russ Jolley trail then switchbacks steeply up a spur ridge to meet the Rock of Ages Trail around 2000ft elevation.


This canyon has not officially been descended yet.


If descending the lower canyon, the exit is right at the parking lot.

If descending one of Horsetail Creek's upper branches, the Russ Jolley trail likely will be used for the exit route.

Red tape

Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls are major tourist draws along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Be aware: unlike other parts of the country, canyoning is not widely known or recognized in the Pacific NW. Individuals climbing, rappelling, or slack-lining around such "show waterfalls" are far more likely to garner negative reactions from the general public at large. Negative reactions can lead to complaints and more rules by the local authorities. If you must descend this creek, locals suggest descending when the number of hikers will be low - e.g. early in the morning or on weekdays. Please be scrupulous about following a Leave-No-Trace ethic. Leaving brightly colored anchors can annoy waterfall photographers, irk land managers, and may encourage the inexperienced / unprepared to attempt to follow you.

Beta sites

Trip reports and media



Information provided by automated processes. KML map by (unknown). Main photo by (unknown). Authors are listed in chronological order.

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