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?

Waterfall in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

A small but not insignificant waterfall in Silver Falls State Park (May 2010)

Silver Falls State Park has ten main waterfalls that are named. I think there’s an eleventh that is also named, and while it’s on the map, it’s not one that you might go searching for. It ends up that there are many other smaller waterfalls in the park. Since they’re smaller, they haven’t been named, and some logically so.

There’s one “unnamed” waterfall, though, that is pretty tall and prominent, and if you’re walking around on the Ten Waterfalls Trail, it’s pretty hard to miss. (That’s assuming that there’s water flowing, which isn’t a crazy assumption in Oregon, unless it’s really dry.) This waterfall is about 15-20′ tall or so, and because the other waterfalls around it are taller or wider, it probably got lost in the shuffle. Or maybe it has a name, but it’s been kept a secret. It’s not Hidden Falls, since it’s the exact opposite of hidden. As you’re walking along the trail, it’s on the direct opposite side of the river staring you in the face. So don’t forget “Captain Obvious Falls” the next time you visit Silver Falls State Park (which must have not been that obvious if you didn’t notice it the first time!).

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: 20′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Where in the World is the Waterfall in Silver Falls State Park?

Little Zigzag Falls, Oregon

A few months back in October 2013, I visited Oregon, and it was an amazingly beautiful weekend. The sun was out and the temperatures were extremely enjoyable. Near Portland, there are so many options in the Columbia River gorge, but I decided to look for waterfalls more inland. Off in its own world is White River Falls. Nearer to Portland and Mt. Hood are a number of other waterfalls that take a little bit of driving to visit. I didn’t stop to see many of them, either because of time issues or because they required even more driving down back roads.

One of the easiest to visit off of US-26, the Mt. Hood Highway, is Little Zigzag Falls. This little treasure of a waterfall is found between Mt. Hood Village and Government Camp. There is a three mile drive to the falls, but it is along a completely paved road. The 1/4 mile hike to the falls is very enjoyable, though it was rather chilly because of the shade. There were so many great vantage points, though rocks were preventing the whole waterfall from being photographed at any one of those viewpoints. While I might not go out of the way just to view this waterfall, you can see other waterfalls in the area, along with great views of Mt. Hood. (Right at the beginning of the hike, there are also the very cool remnants of the old US-26, if I remember correctly.)

Directions:

  1. Head east on US-26 from Mt. Hood Village. If you go past Government Camp, you have gone too far.
  2. Turn left onto 39 Road, which is easy to turn onto if you’re headed east. (Headed west, it’s a sharp right turn.)
  3. Head the three miles or so down 39 Road to the dead end. Park and hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Little Zigzag Falls in October 2013

Where in the World is Little Zigzag Falls?

White River Falls, Oregon

White River Falls in mid-October 2013

Oregon has two halves. If you’ve ever visited Portland or traveled west toward the coast, you’re greeted with intensely green lush forests. It’s hard to escape the green. If you’ve traveled east from Portland, you’ll know that it suddenly becomes much drier, and far less green. That’s not to say that it’s any less beautiful, it’s just a completely different feel. It feels less “Pacific Coast”, and more desert West.

Even the waterfalls seem different in this drier half. White River Falls might be one of the widest waterfalls in Oregon (outside of Willamette Falls) that I’ve seen. Many of the others in the Columbia River Gorge and near the Central Cascades are much thinner. It’s difficult to tell how wide the falls are in photographs because in order to capture both drops, you’ll miss a portion of the upper falls that is blocked by trees and rock. (One the drops is also commonly known as Celestial Falls.)

It’s a stunning waterfall, especially with the fall colors. This was one of the nicest days I have experienced in Oregon, with the sun shining and blue skies throughout the day. With the sun shining, it was difficult to get photos at certain angles, but there were still more than enough vantage points to lead to some pretty good shots. Near the falls, you’ll also experience the history associated with the dam that existed at the falls at one point. There is an old building still below the base of the second drop that reminds us of the recent past. While this waterfall is somewhat isolated from others, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Directions:

  1. From The Dalles, head south on US-197 for 28 miles or so.
  2. Turn left onto OR-216, and head east for 4 miles.
  3. Turn right into the entrance to White River Falls State Park. There is limited parking, though on this beautiful Saturday, it still seemed more than abundant.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 75′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is White River Falls?

Salt Creek Falls, Oregon

Salt Creek Falls in August 2013

Salt Creek Falls is reported to be the second tallest single-drop waterfall in Oregon (after Multnomah Falls). At 286′, Salt Creek Falls is extremely impressive, to say the least.

As I left for the falls today, I was expecting the parking area for the falls to be extremely busy, as it is a Saturday. It ended up not being extremely busy, and I was able to find a parking spot almost immediately. I didn’t get to see the falls right away, because almost instantly after arriving, a rather intense hailstorm (with some thunder) hit. I’m actually glad I wasn’t driving. That finally subsided, and I was able to walk to the falls. It’s a very short walk, so if you’re headed to Crater Lake from Eugene, you could stop here quickly.

There is a main viewpoint for the falls, and then there is a trail that leads down to the base. Both of these are more than adequate. The upper viewpoint might even be handicapped accessible, and most visitors could view it with very minimal difficulty. The benefit of taking the trail down is that you get to see the amazing cliffs that you were standing on just moments before. The volcanic rock was really interesting.

I was also planning on visiting Diamond Creek Falls, which is a 1.5 mile hike from the parking area, but the rain and thunder deterred me from going further. (I do not care for thunder at all, and reports on the radio indicated that there were some pretty severe thunderstorms in the region.) You might decide to check that out also.

Directions:

  1. The falls are found almost directly of off OR-58, east of Oakridge and west of the US-97 intersection.
  2. There are multiple signs indicating the turn for Salt Creek Falls. If you are headed east, turn right.
  3. Take a sharp right and continue down the paved road to the loop at the end. The parking area is actually very close to the main road.
  4. It’s a very short walk along a paved path to the Salt Creek Falls viewpoint. To find Diamond Creek Falls, go to the far left end of the parking lot, and park near the Diamond Creek Trailhead.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 286′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Salt Creek Falls?

Lower South Falls, Oregon

Lower South Falls in May 2010

Lower South Falls really doesn’t sound like an extremely exciting waterfall, but it is one of the amazingly beautiful waterfalls to be found in Silver Falls State Park. And there are a number of really spectacular ones!

Silver Falls State Park is a waterfall-seeker’s dream. When I counted, the were 11 named waterfalls, and at least 6 other smaller, unnamed falls. A few of the larger falls are not particularly breathtaking, but six or seven are truly amazing. Lower South Falls is one of the four waterfalls that you can walk behind (as part of the trail visiting all of the falls). It’s hard to tell in this picture, as I was taking the photograph at a different vantage point.

And just a thought…Many of Oregon’s waterfalls are just so intensely green! Obviously, the water isn’t green, but the landscape around the falls is. I can often tell Oregon (and Washington) waterfalls apart from others because of that intensity.

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: 93′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Where in the World is Lower South Falls?

Winter Falls, Oregon

Winter Falls in May 2010

If you’re looking for a place to see numerous waterfalls in a few hours, the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park is a great choice if you are near Salem. The trail is a little under 9 miles round trip, and it can be done in three to four hours.

There are a number of different places to start along the trail, and I started near South Falls. It just so happens that based on the direction I took, Winter Falls was the last waterfall on my journey. The day started out somewhat chilly, but not terribly so. About halfway along the trail, I remember it being sunny. As I looped around North Falls, the clouds appeared, though gradually. By the time I had reached Winter Falls, it seems that the weather was trying to mimic the name of the falls (even though it was early May). It didn’t snow, but at one point it was sleeting, and it was not very warm at that point. I remember being very glad that I had dressed in layers.

The falls are right near a road, but you can’t really get a great view without heading downhill along a spur trail (that eventually connects back to a portion of the trial I had already traversed). For your perseverance, though, you will be rewarded with a view of a really beautiful (not to mention tall) waterfall. After viewing the falls, I decided to head back up the spur trail and continue along my way to the parking lot, which I had some difficulty finding.

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: 134′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Where in the World is Winter Falls?