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?

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?