Rock of Ages and Horsetail Creek Loop Trail is a 8.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Bridal Veil, Oregon that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.
Lots of scrambling and elevation gain, incredible view from Rock of Ages arch and from Devils Backbone at about mile 2. I'd recommend turning around after Devils backbone as the rest of the hike is long with only decent views. I did this in December and although the multiple creek crossings weren't bad there was over a foot of snow and your feet get soaked. It's definitely worth it, but come prepared!
Did this on 09/28/16. Good hike. Good workout. The section up to Rock of Ages is a total scramble. The trail is well defined but in poor shape and mostly uphill. You will be surrounded by poison oak the whole way up. There are some serious cliffs along the Rock of Ages Arch. Definitely be on your A game and use caution along the trail as it comes close to some steep edges.
Very intense hike!!
Hiked this twice now once in feb in two feet of snow and yesterday bad ass hike Rock of Ages takes 15 min to get to then you hike up to the Devils Backbone and up into the forest pretty steep for the first 3 miles then its flat and goes back down hill you get to see Horsetail Falls Tripple Falls twords the end of the hike good workout not for begginers at all you can bring dog's and kids to the Rock of Ages but i wouldnt bring them any farther this is not that hike for the family unless your all in shape
While I read the majority of the reviews before heading out I cannot claim that I realized what I was getting myself into. Steep hike with some amazing sites. All in all it is a great hike for an unmaintained trail.
I guess I enjoyed this hike, which makes me a masochist. There is no way this is 8 miles. Yeah, I wondered around quite a bit, but my track looks just like this and was 14.4 brutal miles according to my iPhone 6. I don't know how anyone is supposed to find the up trail. You have to know where it is. It's about 100 yards or so short of the falls. Look for a big tree on the left. If you say "that can't possibly be the trail" then you've found it. So I did it counterclockwise, which I really REALLY do not recommend.
I really enjoyed this hike. I started at the horsetail falls trail head and turned up the rock of ages trail right before ponytail falls. I only went as far up as the arch, which was really cool and had some amazing views of the gorge. The hike up was steep and challenging but well worth it imho. I came back down to the horsetail falls trail and continued on, passing a few waterfalls along the way. About halfway there's a trail that goes to triple falls. I would recommend checking this fall out it's unique for sure! It's about 2 extra miles total though, so depending on how you feel. The rest of the hike down is a piece of cake! If you enjoy just being in the forest even better. All in all I ended up hiking just under 6 miles total. Bring lots of water and some snacks like others have stated. Enjoy!
Do NOT do the hike backwards, unless you're ready for a serious workout! if you do the trail backwards it's up hill the whole way for about 8 miles, then you have 2 miles of straight crazy down hill! 3000 feet in less than 2 miles.
Do not go on this hike if you are bad at picking up trails, there are no signs and there are multiple forks that are confusing from rock of ages until you get back on the maintained trail. I took my golden retriever/lab on this trail and she did great, if your dog is fit and experienced at hiking they'll be fine, I only had to help her over a few large logs. If you're looking for solitude and a solid workout this is a great hike.
it's a Good hike if you hike the whole loop from Rock Of Ages to Devil's Backbone and Horsetail Creek not for beginners or the faint of heart but if your like me sure footed and like to Climb this one's for you
If you home the whole loop you'll get to see Rock of Ages , Climb Devil's Backbone and Horsetail loop it's not for beginners or the faint but if your like me sure footed and like climbing around this one's for you
11 miles and a total of 3700 feet of climb. features 3 waterfalls and I can't rave enough about the beauty of this hike. start at horsetail falls and follow the trail until you just about turn the corner to see ponytail falls to find the trail head. there is a faint arrow marked on a rock to show you the way. first 2 miles is a scramble but ask well worth the effort. you get 2 killer gorge views once you reach the rock of ages about 1.3 miles up the trail. continue on up the devils backbone to another great gorge view facing west along a rock ridge. after you enjoy a nice break continue with your climb up. you then have already experienced all the view points and now get to enjoy a long waltz through old growth forest streak crossings, massive, trees, gorgeous wildflowers, and the sense of adventure going through an unmaintained trail. other than the first 3 miles of the hike this trail was pretty easy. I saw eagles, a huge pheasant, and a woodpecker as well
Completed this loop today. I missed the staircase in the way in and ended the 8ish mile hike going down from the arch...big mistake. Maybe it's just me but I think they're are better views of the gorge than this hike offers (Hamilton, dog, etc). Interesting one though, and tough. Like it's been said, bring plenty of food and water. There were many tricky moments when I was not completely sure where to go and I have done all the big hikes in the area. Seriously...don't get lost. Be safe and have fun! See you out there!
Going up was fairly intense, and there were many times where I wasn't completely sure which way to go. The Rock of Ages was awesome, and then later we did end up reaching what Victoria called the Devil's Backbone, which was also crazy cool. The way back on the other hand was kind of awful, it's so much harder going down loose rock and debris than it is going up. I slipped and slid down on my butt quite a few times. Thank you Victoria for providing such a clear description of where this trail actually starts! Found it no problem.
Really steep for the first 2.5-3 miles till it flattens out at the top, then its mostly downhill and a little bit of creek crossing. Cool hike.
Victoria is right on so many points about the trail. (1) The start from the Pony falls trail is obscured and partly hidden by a large tree. (2) Its one of the steepest trails on the Gorge so she is right walking sticks are a distraction. (3) It should be noted truly is an unmaintained so should only attempted by experienced hikers and certainly no dogs or children. I have completed the Rock of Age, Horsetail (Trail # 424), and Oneonta Trail (Trail # 424) loop in both directions. The loop is 10.7 miles by my GPS and reaches a max elevation of 3,050 feet. My advice is if you are going to attempt this loop start with Rock of Ages portion first the accent down Rock of Ages could do number on the legs of the best of hikers. Apart from that Rock of Ages Arch and the cliffs faces viewed at this point are worth the detour of the trail. It is one hell of hike however because of the strenuous nature of the trail I give it three stars.
Update on Rock of Ages: There are no longer any signs available, at least none that are visible. You need to take a left up a staircase made of roots right after the bend to Pony tail falls. There's a large rock with a scraped arrow pointing up. After that, you're on your own. I highly recommend only experienced hikers without dogs and children take this hike. Walking sticks are a hazard and a distraction, don't take them. I hike twice a week all over PNW and I am very fit and I found this hike strenuous and I even had a panic attack once I reached the top and could not fathom a safe way down. I completed about 7 miles of this hike and possibly took a shortcut down because I could not locate a safer exit that led to what is described above. There are several forks that are unmarked. It was summer time so the dirt and roots were very loose and dry. Many times on Devil's backbone the rocks were crumbling underneath me. The hike is very often vertical climbing foot to hand. The views are incredible and the best of the Columbia river. Just note: you'll be all alone.
Rocky But Fun!