Valley Falls, West Virginia

I haven’t posted any waterfalls in a while, even though I have visited a number since my last post. I’m done with work for the semester and have the next few months off to write about and visit waterfalls. This post is about a waterfall that I visited over a month ago, Valley Falls in West Virginia.

Some parts of West Virginia have more waterfalls because of certain geological features, but northern West Virginia doesn’t have nearly as many. A few do exist, though, and one of them is Valley Falls. This waterfall is found on the Tygart Valley River, which is a rather wide river that flows through West Virginia. The waterfall has its own state park, and when I visited, it was very peaceful, with only a few other people at the park. It was mid-April on a weekend, and it was pretty warm, but apparently people weren’t ready to get outdoors just yet!

There are a few drops that compose the waterfall, and each of them isn’t particularly tall. The one in the picture below might be a drop of about 5′ or so. What makes Valley Falls a bit more impressive is its width. The river is pretty wide, and when the falls are flowing, it would not be an easy task to cross the river.

I don’t know whether I would go out of my way to visit Valley Falls. There aren’t many other falls within a 30 or 40 mile radius, at least not considering driving distance. I did drive to Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania after this, but it was at least an hour drive there, if not more. If you’re near Morgantown, then I would consider taking a detour to visit.

Directions:
There are numerous ways to get to the falls, but the easiest path is as follows:

  1. From I-79 in West Virginia, take exit 137.
  2. Turn onto WV-310 heading southeast. Continue along this road for 7 miles.
  3. There will be a sign for Valley Falls State Park. Turn onto this road (which might be marked as 31/14) and drive 2 miles. The road you’re on will follow the perimeter of a lake, and then turn into Valley Falls Road.
  4. From the parking area, it’s a very short walk to the falls. There is no entrance fee.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 25′
Distance of Hike: negligible

Valley Falls in mid-April 2015

Where in the World is Valley Falls?

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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?

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?

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?

Middle North Falls, Oregon

Middle North Falls in May 2010

Middle North Falls, despite the rather generic name, is one of the more memorable waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. There are a number of waterfalls that you can walk behind in the park, and this is the falls where you have the best bet of getting wet. You can even probably reach out and touch the falls if you want as you walk behind. It’s not as tall as the other falls in the park, but it still has its redeeming qualities.

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: 106′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Where in the World is Middle North Falls?

Upper North Falls, Oregon

Upper North Falls in May 2010

Upper North Falls is one of the waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park that could be very easily missed if you don’t stop and take the time to actively look for it. You’ll likely be hiking along the Ten Waterfalls Trail, which is rather long, but still enjoyable. I started at the parking lot near South Falls. As you walk under North Falls on the opposite side of the park, you’ll find yourself given a choice. You can head right and continue back toward South Falls. Or you can head right, cross the road, and take the short hike to Upper North Falls.

You should do this, since it’s only about 0.1 miles from that junction, and it’s not a difficult hike at all. Along the way, you’ll see one or two miniature cascades. At the end of the trail, you’ll be able to see Upper North Falls from a short distance. It’s not nearly as spectacular as some of the other falls in the park, but it’s also not the most boring of the falls either. It falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.

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 Upper North Falls quickly. 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: 6/10 (moderate), 10/10 (if you just want to see this waterfall)
Height: 65′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Where in the World is Upper North Falls?