I was keen to visit the Silver Falls State Park when I took my road trip down to Oregon. I went to the park after my hike at Abiqua Falls (see post) which is really close as the crow flies but due to the roads takes about an hour to drive between. The big drawcard of Silver Falls State Park is the interconnecting system of waterfalls which can be seen in one hike called the Hike of the 10 Falls. I got there late in the afternoon and didn’t have time to do the full hike but got to see all the falls in two separate hikes. I stayed the night at a cabin near the conference centre which was really cute but I wish I had booked one at the park’s campground because they were cheaper. I was excited to visit in April because the falls would be at full capacity from the spring melt.
Silver Falls State Park OR
drive time from Seattle
raingear for waterfall spray
Park entry ($3 from Visitors center or parking lot)
There are many options on where to start the trail of the 10 falls, I started my hike by parking at the South Falls Lodge passing the cafeteria and heading to the South Falls to begin. Even though it was pretty late in the afternoon I was surprised how many people there were around. The South Falls is a huge 54m (177ft) waterfall over basalt columns and the trail wraps down into the canyon and behind the falls. The interesting geology of the area means many of the falls have caverns behind the waterfall carved out by the water spray and made wider by the trail makers. The south falls is has the longest drop of any of the falls in the park and this time of year there was a lot of spray coming off. I got a little wet as I went under the falls and stopped to take photos. After the loop behind the falls, there is an option to head back towards the lodge on a bridge over the river or continuing on the canyon trail that follows the course of the river.
I continued on the trail following the course of the river. The trail was mostly flat and I passed several other parties returning to South Falls as it was getting pretty late in the day. After about a mile I got to some switchbacks and stairs leading down to the Lower South Falls. I think of all the falls this was one of my favourites, the path wound behind it, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as the main falls and at this time of year and there was a huge amount of water going over it.
The Canyon trail continues beyond the Lower South falls to where Silver Creek forks to the North and South. The trail now starts following the North Fork. After a short time, I got to the Lower North Falls and the side trail to Double Falls. Lower North Falls wasn’t that exciting – just a small cascade, but I liked Double Falls. Double Falls is the tallest in the park and in summer isn’t much to look at. It’s a thin falls but this time of year was full. The sun was getting pretty low and I was realizing I might not have enough time left to do the full loop. I continued hiking along the Canyon trail passing Drake Falls, Middle North Falls to Twin Falls. Of all these Falls Middle North Falls was my favourite, it was another that you could walk behind.
After a brief stop at Twin Falls, instead of finishing the canyon falls loop I backtracked and hike back to the car and at the South Falls parking lot via the Winter Falls trail. Winter Falls was another thin tall waterfall that in any other season probably wouldn’t be worth seeing. The trail has to climb out of the valley past Winter Falls where it joins the Rim Trail. The Rim Trail is only a way to connect the North and South Falls and not very exciting. It follows the road for the majority of the way.
Once back at the car with the last of the light, I drove to the North Falls. North Falls was pretty impressive with a huge grotto carved out behind it. I climbed down the switchbacks and steps to explore the grotto and photograph the falls. When I got back to the car the sun had set and I didn’t have time for the final of the waterfalls on the trail (Upper North Falls). Since I was staying at the park I visited the Upper North Falls the next morning. It was a pretty waterfall but the flow was so high it was mostly shrouded in mist and hard to get photos of without getting my lens wet.