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?

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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?

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?

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?

Lower North Falls, Oregon

There are a number of waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park that are moderately tall and rather wide. Drake Falls and Twin Falls do not really have great viewpoints, and so they just don’t seem that interesting (to me, at least). Lower North Falls is different. It has a viewpoint that allows for a more direct view of the falls, and that makes it more photogenic. If you look in the upper center of the picture, you’ll notice the Waterfall Trail leading crossing the North River.

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: 30′
Length of Hike: 8.7 miles round-trip (to see all waterfalls in the park)

Lower North Falls in May 2010

Where in the World is Lower North Falls?