Rock of Ages Trail

Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Area, Oregon

Elevation Gain3,337ft
Trailhead Elevation3,019ft
Elevation Min/Max334/3019ft
Elevation Start/End3019/3019ft

Rock of Ages Trail

Rock of Ages Trail is a hiking trail in Multnomah County, Oregon. It is within Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Area. It is 2.1 miles long and begins at 3,019 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,337 feet. The trail ends near the Ponytail Falls and Horsetail Falls waterfalls. This trail connects with the following: Horsetail Creek Trail and Oneonta Trail.

Rock of Ages Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking The Columbia River Gorge (Falcon Guides)
Russ Schneider, revised by Jim Yuskavitch
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"A steep, primitive scramble up Rock of Ages Ridge, with abundant views of cli s and basalt formations."
75 Scrambles in Oregon: Best Non-Technical Ascents (The Mountaineers Books)
Barbara I. Bond
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"The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is one of Oregon’s outdoor playgrounds. While there are many hikes, scrambles, and rock climbs, most are well traveled. Rock of Ages is a scramble up a very steep ridge, which will take you away from the crowded gorge mainstream and into the backcountry. This route travels through areas where early gorge hikers and even climbers traveled when the area was developing as a recreation spot in the mid-twentieth century. This scramble is quite steep in spots, which adds to the challenge as you ascend to the plateau. Enjoy the old-growth trees along the upper plateau before you reach the trail junction. Special considerations: Not recommended when rainy or snowy. No footbridge over Oneonta Creek; the creek may be very difficult to ford after heavy rain or during spring snowmelt."
Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano
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"An unmaintained trail up an excruciatingly steep ridge, Rock of ages is one of the most challenging and exhilarating hikes in the gorge. The trail gains over 2000 feet in less than 2 miles, requiring strong quads, steady feet, and occasionally a good grip. The features here sound like they're straight out of a Dan Brown novel—you’ll scramble along a ridge high above Saint Peters Dome before gingerly ascending the Devils Backbone. While your heart pounds, enjoy the views of the Columbia usually reserved for swifts."

Rock of Ages Trail Trip Reports

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My wife and I ended up missing the turnoff to the non-maintained portion of the hike so we ended up doing the hike in reverse...I do not recommend trying it that way unless you're a glutton for punishment. Doing it this way you're going uphill for 7+ miles and then finishing with an extremely steep climb down. The proper turn off is at a large tree on the left with exposed roots just as you start to see Ponytail falls. It really just looks like another water run off spot. The spur for the natural rock arch about .5 mile in is worth the climb. Do the rest if you like long hikes through quiet forest and you dont mind getting your feet wet.
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The trail that is primitive is really primitive, meaning that it has been grown over and the trail is no where to be found good luck. However, if you continue on the main trails there are great views. The trail it self is not hard just a steady climb up for about three miles where you come to a junction to head back down to the river to cross a log bridge. The log bridge is no more then a blow down where the three bridges you cross before are man made. The forest service must of ran out of money by now. Beware you need to be have balls of steel. The log is on a 30 + degree angle ten feet off the rocks and river. In addition it is wet slippery and full of moss. There is no other way to cross unless you wait till mid summer when the river is slow and down. All the rocks on the river area are covered with moss. You slip you'll break a leg or be washed down river. Is it worth it I don't think so.

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Backpacked this trail with a friend on 6/25/93, which was really stupid. This trail rises 3000 vertical feet in 3 miles, terminating near Nesmith Pt. and Yeon Mt. Better to attempt with a day or hip pack, preferably as a loop with Nesmith Pt. or Triple Falls for the return. Requires a number of handholds on rocks and tree trunks, frequently bending half way over to maintain a center of gravity. Once you get past the extremity of the trail, you will find the scenery is unlike the rest of the gorge. It has the look and feel of a steep rain forest, with excellent views at the Devils Backbone, also a good lunch stop. The Arch, somewhat earlier in the climb is a great stop for a snack and picture-taking. There is no water beyond the Pony Tail Falls gorge, so carry plenty.

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Trail Information

Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Area
Skill Level
Mount Hood National Forest
Local Contacts
Green Trails Columbia River Gorge–West No. 428S
Local Maps

Trail Log