Plaikni Falls, Oregon

The trail to Plaikni Falls in Crater Lake National Park opened just the year previous to my visit, so I feel somewhat lucky that I showed up at the right time when visiting the park. If I remember correctly, this waterfall was not listed in the books I had, and only found out about it by looking at the map they gave at the park entrance.

The hike to the falls along the newer trail was very enjoyable, and isn’t particularly difficult. It’s just over 1 mile from the parking area to the falls. I have read that it is wheelchair accessible, and it seems from reports of others that this is true.  I do believe the last portion of the falls does require a slight uphill climb, if I remember correctly. Even so, the elevation change isn’t particularly significant.

Once you get to Plaikni Falls, you’re rewarded with a very mellow waterfall. The hike to the falls was so enjoyable, and then you arrive at this waterfall that is big enough to excite the senses but not so large as to drown out the thoughts…it just seemed peaceful. I enjoyed being able to rest, surrounded by lush green plants (which I associate with parts of Oregon).

Directions:

  1. The trail head is found near the southern portion of the Rim Drive, which goes around Crater Lake. Realize that the Rim Drive is only completely open from sometime in mid-June until the snow starts falling again copious quantities. So don’t plan on visiting Plaikni Falls in April. You won’t be very lucky.
  2. From the Rim Drive, you’re going to turn onto Pinnacles Road. If you are headed east, it would be a sharp turn to your right onto Pinnacles Road. (Also, if heading east, it would be right before the Phantom Ship Overlook, which you can use as a turn-around in case you miss the road.)
  3. If you go all the way to the end of Pinnacles Road, you’ll be rewarded with another amazing sight…Pinnacles formed by interesting volcanic activity and subsequent erosion. To get to the trail head, though, go about 1 mile down Pinnacles Road. The parking area for the trail head will be on your left.
  4. Park at the trail head, and start the hike to Plaikni Falls. You may want to bring bug spray…

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Distance of Hike: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Height: 20′ (main), 40′ (total)

Plaikni Falls in mid-August 2013

Where in the World is Plaikni Falls?

Umbrella Falls, Oregon

Umbrella Falls in October 2013

I sometimes visit too many waterfalls. I had been going through pictures at one point, and noticed there seemed to be a waterfall I hadn’t identified. I remember that the waterfall was in Oregon, and went back to find out it was Umbrella Falls. I’m not sure why I missed it!

Umbrella Falls is actually found on Mount Hood. As you’re driving up to the trailhead (which ends up at the ski area if you go a bit further), you will be treated to some amazing views of the summit. The trailhead is relatively easy to find, and the hike to Umbrella Falls is relatively short at just over a quarter mile one-way. It didn’t take a particularly long time to hike to the falls, and it was a very enjoyable hike the whole way. The waterfall is 59′ tall, and is really very beautiful. On the October day I visited, it was surprisingly warm even at this higher elevation, and while the sun made it slightly difficult to photograph the waterfall, it was perfect otherwise.

There is another waterfall, Sahalie Falls, that can be viewed by continuing along this trail. It’s an additional 2.1 miles one-way. I decided to not hike that distance, and I’m guessing it was because it was later in the day and I may have been worn out. From maps, it also looked like Sahalie Falls could be quickly accessed from one of the other forest roads, but I found that the road I was looking for had been blocked off (if I remember correctly). That may have changed in the two years since I’ve been there?

Directions:

  1. From the intersection of US-26 and OR-35, head east/northeast along OR-35.
  2. You will drive just over 6 miles to the “exit” for Mt. Hood Meadows Road.
  3. Drive north along Mt. Hood Meadows Road for about 1.5 miles. If you look to the right as you drive slowly by, you may notice the trail for Umbrella Falls. I believe there was a sign for the falls, but it wasn’t immediately obvious.
  4. I turned around in the ski parking lot (after taking some pictures of Mt. Hood), and then looped back around down and parked on the side of the road.
  5. I started along the trail to Umbrella Falls. It’s a pretty simple/straightforward trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: 0.25 miles one-way
Height: 59′

Where in the World is Umbrella Falls?

Watson Falls, Oregon

Watson Falls in August 2013

Watson Falls is one of the many waterfalls you can find along OR-138. It’s one of the taller waterfalls in that region, or one of the taller ones that is very easy to visit. Toketee Falls is not that far away, though that requires a slightly longer hike (though still definitely worthwhile).

At 272′ tall, Watson Falls is pretty impressive. I have seen others indicate it might be the best waterfall in the area, but I guess I still liked Toketee Falls more. It is tall, but there wasn’t a huge amount of water flowing over the falls when I visited. This left it looking rather wispy. The bigger issue was probably the timing, though. As I have mentioned before, I can’t always plan to show at the perfect time in the perfect weather. The weather was actually stunning…sunny and very comfortable temperatures. But the sun was making it difficult to photograph the falls. I think the photograph here was in front of the falls, but there weren’t many great shots. I think I was able to get a good view from the right side of the falls standing very close to the rock wall. I think earlier in the year and with the right lighting, I would agree Watson Falls could be even more stunning.

Directions:

  1. Watson Falls isn’t particularly hard to find if you’re on OR-138. You will have entered Umpqua National Forest. It’s to the east of Toketee Falls and the Diamond Lake Ranger Station.
  2. If you are headed east, you will turn RIGHT onto National Forest Road 37 (Fish Creek Road). It should be clearly signed for Watson Falls.
  3. You won’t be driving very far at all down this road, as the parking area should be almost directly off the road.
  4. From here, it’s about a 0.35 mile hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Distance of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip
Height: 272′ (could be up to 302′)

Where in the World is Watson Falls?

Whitehorse Falls, Oregon

After visiting Crater Lake National Park last year, I took Oregon route 138 when heading back toward Eugene. There are a number of very impressive waterfalls along the road, including Toketee and Watson Falls. There are also a number of smaller waterfalls which are very easy to visit.

Whitehorse Falls is just off of route 138 along a very short, paved National Forest Service road. The most difficult task is finding the correct road number, though if I remember correctly, there might be a sign for Whitehorse Falls. After parking in the parking area, you’ve got a walk of a few feet to see the falls. Because it’s only about 15′ tall or so, it’s not nearly as popular as Toketee or Watson Falls. You’ll probably pass by Whitehorse Falls (and Clearwater Falls, which is also on the Clearwater River), so you might as well stop for the few minutes that’s required to see the falls.

Directions:

  1. There aren’t many options to get to Clearwater Falls. You’ve got to be on OR-138. If you’re coming from Crater Lake NP, at the junction of OR-230 and OR-138, you would continue north along OR-138.
  2. After some time, the road will then veer so that you’re driving west (again, if coming from Crater Lake).
  3. Clearwater Falls is the first easy-to-visit waterfall. If you continue on OR-138, you’ll NFS Road 4770, which if heading west, would be on the left.
  4. Turn onto 4770, drive a very short distance to the parking lot, get out of your car, and essentially view the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Whitehorse Falls in August 2013

Where in the World is Whitehorse Falls?

North Falls, Oregon

North Falls in May 2010

If you’re looking to see 10+ waterfalls in one 2-4 hour hike, then Silver Falls State Park near Salem, Oregon is a spectacular choice. It’s not a long drive from Portland, and you enter into stunningly beautiful forests. At one starting point, you have South Falls, which is a really impressive waterfall. There are then a number of other amazing waterfalls along the Ten Waterfalls Hike, which has more than ten waterfalls (at least by my count).

Think of North Falls as the bookend to South Falls. There is one other waterfall, Upper North Falls, that is further upstream, but some people might not even notice that one. (It requires a deviation from the loop, even though it’s for a very short distance.) There is a parking area that is very close to North Falls, though it is smaller, if I remember correctly. North Falls is awesomely cool because you can walk behind the falls under the very large rock overhang. (There are multiple walk-behind falls in this park.) It doesn’t hurt that the falls clocks in at 136′ tall.

The weather fluctuated during the few hours I was there in early May 2010. It was rainy and somewhat cold for the first half of the hike. The sun then came out just as I was approaching North Falls, making it just a bit more difficult to capture good photographs. As I started back on the trail, it clouded up again, and by the time I reached Winter Falls, it seemed appropriate that flurries were falling from the sky! Even in the cold, it was still a great experience, and one that I will likely repeat again. In all, it’s about a 9 mile hike round-trip.

Directions:

  1. From Salem, drive east on US-22 to the junction of US-22 and OR-214.
  2. Head north on OR-214 for 15 miles, following the numerous signs to Silver Falls State Park.
  3. This is where parking at the North Falls parking lot would be the much better choice if you want to view North Falls. If you park there, it’s just a short 0.1 mile hike to the falls. You can still connect to the Ten Waterfalls Trail from either parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (especially starting from North Falls parking area), 6/10 (for the whole hike)
Height: 136′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

DSC_0795

The view as you walk behind the falls.

Where in the World is North Falls?

Susan Creek Falls, Oregon

Susan Creek Falls in August 2013

Last August, I visited the Eugene and Klamath Falls regions of Oregon. My main visit was at Crater Lake National Park, but along the way back, I also planned on visiting a number of other waterfalls. There are so many possible options that I didn’t end up visiting all of them, but instead the easiest-to-visit waterfalls. Realize that there are definitely more in the region!

In order to hike to Susan Creek Falls, you can either start on the north or the south side of OR-138, since there is a parking area on both sides. I remember the hike being relatively short (at about 0.8 miles or so), though it did seem to meander somewhat. It is a relatively flat hike, and it is suggested that it is somewhat handicapped-accessible. At the end of the hike, you’re treated to a very enjoyable view of the 50′ Susan Creek Falls. It’s not the tallest or widest in the region, but it is still calming nonetheless, and you won’t feel especially out of breath after this hike!

Directions:

  1. From I-5, take exit 124 onto Highway 138 headed east.
  2. After 28 miles or so on Highway 138E, you will come to the two parking areas for Susan Creek Falls Day Use Area. If you park on the south side of the road, there are more amenities, though you will have to walk across the road. There is also more parking on that side.
  3. Head upstream to the falls!

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 1.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Susan Creek Falls?

South Falls, Oregon

South Falls in May 2010

It’s been almost four years to the day since I visited Silver Falls State Park, and by random chance, today is the day I’ll mention one of the main waterfalls in the park. I was going to suggest it was one of the more impressive waterfalls, but many of the waterfalls in the park are impressive, so it’s hard to suggest just one. This is one of the taller and wider ones, and will possibly be one of the first you encounter, depending on where you start your journey.

There are at least ten waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park (as suggested by the Ten Waterfalls Trail). By following this trail, you will find waterfall after great waterfall. (I’m not going to repeat all of them here. Click on the “Silver Falls State Park” category or tag above to see the other posts.) From the parking area I chose, South Falls was the first waterfall I saw along the hike. It was a spectacular start! You may notice there is a trail that goes behind the falls. I noticed a number of other people taking that trail, though if memory serves correctly, I did not choose that path. There are other falls that you can walk behind that are directly on the main trail, and I was more than happy with those experiences. (By the end of the hike, I was wet and not particularly warm, and my thoughts were not focused on getting wet even more…I’m a bit hydrophobic.)

I don’t really have much else to say about South Falls. There isn’t really any need for convincing. If you even remotely like waterfalls, Silver Falls State Park should be on your list!

Directions:

  1. From Salem, drive east on US-22 to the junction of US-22 and OR-214.
  2. Head north on OR-214 for 15 miles, following the numerous signs to Silver Falls State Park.
  3. You can park at either the South Falls or North Falls parking areas. The South Falls parking area is larger, and the Waterfall Trail leads you past all of the falls.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 177′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Where in the World is South Falls?