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?

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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?

Fairy Falls, Oregon

Fairy Falls in May 2010

One of the main attractions along the Columbia River Gorge is Wahkeena Falls. The 242′ falls is really stunning. What is not widely as advertised is Fairy Falls, which is upstream from Wahkeena Falls. Now let’s think about this…You start at the main road, the Historic Columbia River Highway. There’s a steady hike uphill to get to the most photogenic portion of Wahkeena Falls. If you continue along this trail, you’ll at some point find yourself at Fairy Falls. But this requires more steady hiking uphill. In just over a mile, you will have hiked up almost 500′ of elevation, so your legs are little to feel a little burn!

But it’s well worth it! The hike is not so impossibly difficult, and the falls are wildly photogenic. Most of the waterfalls in Oregon are surrounded by GREEN, and this waterfall is no exception. The ferns really do create an almost fairy-like setting.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  2. Look for the Wahkeena Falls parking lot as you’re driving along the highway. It will be to the west of the Multnomah Falls parking area.
  3. Start hiking up the paved trail to the viewpoint of Wahkeena Falls.
  4. You’ll cross the bridge over Wahkeena Creek, and continue along this path to Fairy Falls. It may seem like a long distance while you’re hiking uphill, but the way back down is easier!

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Fairy Falls?

University Falls, Oregon

University Falls in May 2010

University Falls is a really stunning waterfall hidden away in the backwoods of western Oregon. When it’s at high flow, it’s definitely a photogenic waterfall worth visiting. And you’ll probably remember the journey just as much as the waterfall.

This waterfall is not particularly hard to drive to, though it is slightly out of the way. The roads leading to the trail are clearly used by loggers at certain times of the year, though I didn’t run into anyone. That just lends to the remote feeling of the falls, even though they’re not that far from a main route.

Once you get to the trail, you’ll meander around for a while, slowly heading downhill until you reach the base of the falls. The falls do just seem to appear out of nowhere. You’ll be reminded of the powerful forces of nature, as there are numerous logs strewn in front of and near the falls. It’s a really great view.

Directions:

  1. The falls are found of off OR-6, which has mile markers. Pay close attention to those mile markers. Heading east from Tillamook, the turnoff is about 0.1 miles past mile marker 33.
  2. There will be a sign called Rogers Camp Road, which will also indicate University Falls. Pay attention for signs to the falls.
  3. Keep heading down Rogers Camp Road, which will veer right and turn into University Falls Road. The roads can be pretty complicated, but I remember thinking it seemed like the only sane road to be driving down. All of the others seemed less hospitable.
  4. After driving for about 3.3 miles from the turn on Route 6, you should come to the sign for the trail to University Falls. If I remember correctly, the sign is fancier than I expected for a falls so hidden away.
  5. Hike to the falls and enjoy!

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

Where in the World is University Falls?

Lancaster Falls, Oregon

Lancaster Falls in May 2010

Starting at Starvation Creek State Park’s parking area, there are three waterfalls in a line (4 including Starvation Creek Falls, which is left from the parking area). The first is Cabin Creek Falls. The second is Hole in the Wall Falls. The final waterfall on the trail (at least before you starting climbing uphill) is Lancaster Falls.

Lancaster Falls is much taller than it appears, but it is almost impossible to get a view of the portion of the falls upstream. If I remember correctly, to get to the falls, you do have more of an uphill climb. Also, you may notice from the falls crosses the trail, though you don’t have to cross the creek if you just want to get a photograph from the left. The view from the right was impressive.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head west along the trail that follows I-84. You’ll actually be pretty close to I-84 at points. The first waterfall you’ll encounter heading west is Cabin Creek Falls. The second falls is Hole in the Wall Falls.  The final falls is Lancaster Falls.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 303′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Lancaster Falls?

Starvation Creek Falls, Oregon

Starvation Creek Falls in May 2010

Starvation Creek Falls is another beautiful waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s found in Starvation Creek State Park, which is a more distant from Portland than some of the other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. It was still pretty popular, though there seemed to be more limited parking.

Starvation Creek State Park is the great starting point for at least three other waterfalls (Cabin Creek Falls, Hole in the Wall Falls, and Lancaster Falls). Starvation Creek Falls is the easiest of the falls to visit, and it is only a short walk from the parking area. The other falls can be visited in a 1 mile one-way hike. Overall, the four falls make for a very enjoyable time, and you can get great views of the Columbia River from the park.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles (?) distance from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head left on the paved trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 227′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Starvation Creek 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?

Hole in the Wall Falls, Oregon

Hole in the Wall Falls in May 2010

Starvation Creek State Park is a little further east than some of the more popular waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, and yet you should definitely visit it if you’re in the area. In Starvation Creek State Park, you can see at least four waterfalls along a one mile (one-way) hike. It’s a relatively easy hike (though it does get steeper near the end).

Starvation Creek Falls is right near the parking area. Cabin Creek Falls is the first along the hike, and creates a few difficulties. Hole in the Wall Falls, though, is very easy to view. As you’re hiking along, you’ll cross the creek with a wooden bridge, and from that area, you can get a great view of this pretty impressive waterfall. From this angle, there were at least two drops visible, and there might be more above. As with many of the other waterfalls in Oregon, the moss-covered rocks only enhance the beauty of the falls!

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head west along the trail that follows I-84. You’ll actually be pretty close to I-84 at points. The first waterfall you’ll encounter heading west is Cabin Creek Falls.  The second falls is Hole in the Wall Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 96′
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Hole in the Wall Falls?

Fern Rock Creek Falls, Oregon

Fern Rock Creek Falls in May 2010

I was trying to remember how difficult it is to find Fern Rock Creek Falls, and realized it is definitely one of the easier waterfalls to find. It is right off of Oregon route 6. Bridge Creek Falls is also nearby, but my gosh, is it difficult to find, though once you find the trail, it’s a super-easy hike.

Fern Rock Creek Falls, on the other hand, is only a few feet away from a large pulloff where there is much more space for cars to park. When I arrived, the parking area was wet and muddy, which I’m expecting is pretty normal in spring. Even so, you can see the falls from your car. It’s definitely worth it to get out and enjoy the view. The waterfall is very photogenic, as are many of the mossy falls in Oregon.

Directions:

  1. I was heading east along OR-6 from Tillamook. Set your odometer, and drive for a little over 29 miles. You should see mile marker signs, though for some reason, not every mile…
  2. Just past the 29 mile marker, you’ll see a “parking” area, which is one of the few places you can pull off easily. It will be on your right if you’re heading east.
  3. Look out your window, and you should see the falls. If you don’t see falls, you’re not at the right place!

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 25′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Where in the World is Fern Rock Creek 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?