Sempervirens Falls, California

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Sempervirens Falls in April 2016

I like to head out to California for short trips, and San Francisco is one of the best places to start a journey. There are so many different things to be viewed in the area. There are a number of waterfalls in the area, but they’re spread out in all different directions. (Check out Mountain View FallsAlamere Falls, and McWay Falls as examples.) In Big Basin Redwood State Park south of San Francisco, there are a few waterfalls that require significant hikes to arrive at (Berry Creek Falls and Silver Falls). I didn’t hike to those falls since I had no wish to go that far. So instead I hiked to Sempervirens Falls.

I tend to get a late start (not a morning person), so when I arrived at Big Basin SP, parking was at a minimum for a beautiful Saturday in April. Parking is found along Escape Road, and I kept driving. The cars were parked alongside, so I just kept going. I found ample parking at the end of Escape Road, and realized that it would be easier to take a completely different path than I had originally planned.

At the end of Escape Road, I headed north past the fence where Escape Road officially “ends”, though it continues as a walking path. After a few hundred feet, I took a sharp right onto the Sequoia Trail. I continued along this path, crossing CA-236. The Sequoia Trail continues downhill to the falls (which are to your right as your reach Sky Meadow Road. The most difficult portion of the hike is the uphill climb on the return.

I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to see Sempervirens Falls, though the surrounding redwoods make up for the smaller than expected waterfall. It’s at most 20′ tall, and is rather narrow. Still, enjoy the scenery!

Directions:

  1. From CA-9, head in the general direction of CA-236. (CA-236 forms a loop so that you can connect from the north or south along CA-9.)
  2. CA-236 loops through Big Basin Redwood State Park. It’s a rather narrow road.
  3. Pay the entrance fee, and then find parking. If you find parking close to the entrance, you can follow the Sequoia Trail to the falls by heading north. Since I found parking as described above, I found the Sequoia Trail by the opposite direction.

Accessibility: 6/10 (steep uphill climb on the way back)
Height: ~20′
Hike: ~2 miles round trip

Where in the World is Sempervirens Falls?: map

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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?

Drake Falls, Oregon

When deciding what waterfall to discuss next, I choose waterfalls randomly in order to get a good variety of different locations. The first waterfall I talked about in Silver Falls State Park was Twin Falls, which is one of my least favorite falls in the park. Drake Falls, the waterfall of interest here, is another of my least favorite falls in the park. The more exciting falls in the park are to come!

Drake Falls is wide. It’s not very tall, but oh well. You can’t get a really great view of the falls, and even then, it’s not that distinct. Looking at pictures of Twin Falls and Drake Falls, I realized that it’s actually difficult to even tell the two falls apart. The other falls in the park are just more unique and interesting.

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: 27′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Drake Falls in Silver Falls State Park (May 2010)

Where in the World is Drake Falls?

Twin Falls, Oregon

I get to start my discussion of Silver Falls State Park with one of my least favorite falls in the park. Silver Falls State Park is definitely a place every waterfall enthusiast must visit. There are ten or eleven NAMED falls, and anywhere from 5-10 UNNAMED falls, depending on how you define a waterfall.

Twin Falls, which I’m not even sure where the name came from, considering I didn’t see two falls, is one of the least spectacular falls in the park. It has nothing to do with height or width or anything of that sort. There are smaller and thinner waterfalls that have more character than this drop. It’s pretty, but there really isn’t a great view to be had. Oh well…visit for the other falls and add this one to the list.

The waterfalls can all be accessed relatively easily by the Ten Waterfalls trail. Twin Falls is about halfway along the trail, and so it doesn’t really matter whether you park at the North Falls or South Falls parking lot. Be aware that the roundtrip on the trail is about 8 miles, but it surprisingly manageable.

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: 31′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Twin Falls in Silver Falls State Park (May 2010)

Where in the World is Twin Falls?