Two hikers were injured during a flash flood in the Oneonta Gorge Thursday, and now the popular hiking spot is closed due to safety concerns.
The trail is not a maintained U.S. Forest Service trail. Instead, people have created an unofficial path that leads through the water, up and over a log jam, and finally to the Oneonta Falls.
Crews say that log jam has caused at least one death in addition to the two hikers who got caught behind it Thursday.
The staff at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area say they don’t want to see anyone else get hurt.
“If anyone comes here this weekend, it’s a very risky choice,” Public Affairs Officer Rachael Pawlitz told FOX 12. “Please do not come. It is not safe, you could get killed or seriously injured.”
Hikers are now greeted at the beginning of the unofficial trail with a warning sign for hazardous conditions. After that sign is a wet, unstable trail and streams of cold water to wade through, all leading to the log jam.
While it looks impressive, Pawlitz said it’s an unpredictable natural phenomenon, one that could give out or break at any time.
“Yesterday the rush of water was so high that it was up to the level of the log jam,” she explained, adding that it was the location where the hikers were hurt, one even breaking an arm.
The surge of water also washed in more logs clogging up the creek, another reason that the staff members say hikers should pay attention to warning signs.
“It looks like there might be some logs jammed up in between the walls of the canyon, and those are all factors that make us think this is not the time for people to be back here,” Pawlitz said. ”We’re talking about a completely unstable river system that’s in flash flood mode that could happen at any time with no warning.”
While the staff at the scenic area want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, the crews hope everyone takes these warning signs seriously and stays safe this weekend.
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