Our trip to Ramona Falls was ill-timed. As soon as we arrived at the trailhead it started raining, but we forged ahead, thinking the summer rain wouldn’t last long.
We were wrong.
It’s 3.5 miles to the waterfall, and it rained every step of the way. We were not dressed in rain gear, and by the time we got to the falls, we were so miserably wet that we just took a handful of pictures, turned around, and headed back. Thankfully, God answered our pleas for mercy, and the rain stopped on the way back down.
All that to say, our experience at Ramona Falls was far from the norm.
Ramona is a highly recommended waterfall (it has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on alltrails.com), but even if I hadn’t been rain-soaked I don’t think it would be one of my favorite hikes. The scenery on the trail just isn’t at the top of my personal preferences; although the waterfall is gorgeous, I wouldn’t describe the trail as particularly beautiful. Mine is just one opinion, however (and quite possibly biased!), so be sure to read some other reviews before deciding on your trip.
The first mile of the trail loosely follows the Sandy River and is nothing remarkable. The trail then crosses the river, which is an adventure. There is supposed to be a footbridge, but it washed out. As of September 2015 it has not been replaced. There are several logs across the river on which you can cross, however. As a mom, I was pretty nervous about walking above such a formidable river, but my son and husband were both excited about conquering this challenge. Our dog was not thrilled with the idea, either, but she eventually did follow us, and we all made it across – both directions – without any mishaps.
A short distance beyond the river crossing, the trail connects with the Ramona Falls Loop (Trail #797). We chose to go to the right and return the same way because it looked to be a bit shorter than the loop section to the left, and we just wanted to make our water-logged trip as short as possible. I suspect this choice is another reason why we didn’t enjoy the hike as much as other hikers. I’ve read reviews that say the part of the loop we left untraveled is beautiful, especially when the rhododendrons and other flowers are blooming. So if you decide to go see this one, perhaps the time to go is early summer, and definitely make the full loop.
My rating: Worth the effort (2 stars)
(Waterfall – 4 stars, Trail – 2 stars, Experience – 3 stars)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour and 30 minutes drive east
Nearest town: Zigzag
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: 7 miles (although some sources say 6.8 miles and others say 7.1)
Best season to visit: The trail is open May-October, but visit in early summer if possible to view the flowers.
Things to know:
- A $5 fee (or Northwest Forest Recreation Pass) is required.
- This trail is open to horses, so watch your step.
- Pack a lunch and plenty of water.
- Be prepared to pee in nature. There are no restrooms, and this is a long hike!
- Due to the length of the hike and the river crossing, this hike is not suitable for young children.
Consider combining this trip with: Devil Canyon Falls, Little Zigzag Falls, and/or Yocum Falls
Toilet / Amenities: None
How to get there:
- Take Highway 26 to Zigzag. Turn north on E. Lolo Pass Road (Forest Road 18).
- After four miles, turn right onto Forest Road 1825 labeled “campgrounds and trailheads.” This is paved one lane each direction.
- Stay right on the bridge going over the Sandy River (0.6 mile from Lolo Pass Rd.). There is a gate here that is closed in the winter when there’s snow, maybe several months starting in December. Go past McNeil Campground (1 mile from Lolo Pass Rd.).
- Stay left past the road to Riley Horse Camp (1.8 miles from Lolo Pass Rd.). The road narrows to one lane with turnouts.
- Stay left past the road to Lost Creek Campground (2.2 miles from Lolo Pass Rd.). Go 0.3 more miles to the Ramona Falls Trailhead (2.4 miles from Lolo Pass Rd.). This last section is paved with potholes. The trailhead is a huge gravel parking area. On summer weekends there may be 100 cars parked.