Rock of Ages and Horsetail Creek Loop Trail

#4 of 4 trails in Ainsworth State Park
Rock of Ages and Horsetail Creek Loop Trail is a 8.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Bridal Veil, OR that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.

8.1 miles 3448 feet Loop
birding hiking nature trips trail running walking forest views waterfall wild flowers wildlife blowdown scramble no dogs
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Vincent Calabrese
1 day ago

15 Completed11 Reviews

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

Nolan Hopkins
17 days ago

7 Completed5 Reviews

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!

Zara Luttrell
21 days ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

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.

Abhishek Malik
1 month ago

12 Completed6 Reviews

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.

Christine Medina
2 months ago

2 Completed2 Reviews

Scott Finnie
7 months ago

21 Completed15 Reviews

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.

Sang Shin
8 months ago

10 Completed11 Reviews

Sang Shin
8 months ago

10 Completed11 Reviews

Sang Shin
8 months ago

10 Completed11 Reviews

Victoria Zorzoli
8 months ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

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.

Melanie Hernandez
9 months ago

5 Completed5 Reviews

Rocky But Fun!

Sam Kimerling
10 months ago

3 Completed1 Reviews

Nick Noble
11 months ago

12 Completed3 Reviews

This is a challenging hike that rewards your 3,000 ft climb with creek crossings and waterfall views. It doesn't get much better than this in the Gorge. The shorter version to Devil's Backbone is still a tough climb, but can be done as an out and back instead of the full loop. Not family friendly, and remember to bring enough water.

Jon B
2 years ago

78 Completed16 Reviews

very steep. phenomenal views. interesting geology. did i mention very steep?

Tim Todd
2 years ago

1352 Completed141 Reviews

My favorite trail in this area. It is a difficult and all of it has been said in previous reviews so I won't repeat. Be careful and enjoy the views.

Matt Kinney
2 years ago

70 Completed42 Reviews

Rock of Ages is by far one of the most difficult hikes out there. We took some detours that had us literally sidestepping over a sheer cliff face. It is definitely worth it to take the side trail to the top of ponytail falls. I am pictured above in the arch and I have to say besides Devil’s backbone, this is one of the best views of the gorge imaginable. This is a no kids hike that has some potentially dangerous moments, but if you keep your wits and sense of direction, you will be rewarded and want to go again. I am going again at the end of the week. Be careful and remember to pack out what you bring in…

Blake Romey
2 years ago

11 Completed7 Reviews

Phenomenal hike. Difficult to get up. Some of the trails are more like deer trails than hiking trails, but once you get to the top the view is well worth the hike. If you continue up the trail goes almost endlessly to the top of the ridge. I recommend a nice day, it can get a little cold with the wind.

Shawn Severud
3 years ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

I also agree with the last two reviewers. This is a very strenuous hike, so if you were with kids, you most likely didn't get to the actual trail. This trail breaks off up and to the left before you get to the waterfall. Rock of ages is beautiful (and windy) and the view from devil's backbone is incredible. Not for novice hikers.

Ashid Mapanzigan
4 years ago

23 Completed3 Reviews

I agree with the previous review. Most of those posting below have confused this trail with the Horsetail and Triple Falls trail. I recently went with a couple friends to the Rock of Ages, which is perched directly up the side of the east canyon wall above Ponytail Falls, and it was a blast. Definitely not for amatuers, however, as the unmaintained trail is more of a near-vertical climb up a stone staircase.

K L Sinizer
4 years ago

0 Completed1 Reviews

This is a fantastic loop. However, I don't think any of the other reviewers actually did it. The trail to the Rock of Ages arch is very steep, gaining over 2900' in three miles, and can require hand over hand in places. Beyond that there is a traverse across an exposed rocky spine and a creek crossing on a very slippery log. I crossed on all fours. I would not recommend this part of the loop for children. I loved this hike but would definitely call it difficult.