At 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is the second highest waterfall in Oregon. And with an average yearly flow of 50,000 gallon per minute, it's the most powerful waterfall in southern Oregon. Located in the Middle Fork Ranger District of Willamette National Forest, the observation site for the waterfall is located just off OR-58 about 23 miles southwest of Oakridge. The Forest Service charges a $5 day use fee per vehicle to park at the observation site, payable at self-service kiosks. There are restrooms with flush toilets, picnic tables, and a paved trail to the viewing platform for the waterfall. There is also an unpaved trail leading to the base of the waterfall, but we didn't have a chance to go down there and check it out. There are also several longer trails that start here, including Diamond Creek Falls Trail, leading to its namesake waterfall, and Vivian Lake Trail, which leads into Diamond Peak Wilderness.
Salt Creek Falls are the second tallest in Oregon. The falls are about 60 feet wide and fall 286 feet.
There is a nice and mostly accessible viewing area for people to walk to. If a person was in a wheelchair, the going isn't necessarily easy. As you can see, in April you are apt to find snow, and the path to the viewing area wasn't free of snow.
The parking lot is close to the Sno-Park, and until April 30th you are still supposed to have a parking pass. Actually, this is a fee area anytime.
The Pacific Crest trail extends from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, through California, Oregon and Washington. The trail takes you to some amazing natural wonders. The trail, in its entirety, is a serious undertaking taking you from March-April through September to finish. A few thousand people normally can be found undertaking the Appalachian Trail each year. That number is considerably smaller for the PCT, due to the much more uncompromising nature of the trail. To enjoy the PCT and its wonders, you don't have to be one of the compulsive few who aspire to walk its every mile. You can be like me and the mountain corgi and cherry pick the highlights. In Oregon, the best part of the PCT, IMHO, is the stretch running from the south side of the South Sister, near Sisters Mirror Lake - best accessed from Devils Lake on the Century Highway near the ski area of Mt Bachelor - north along the west side of the Three Sisters; then through the amazing lava fields of McKenzie Pass, the base of Mt Washington and Three Finger Jack and along a long crest with other smaller volcanic cones; then the base of Mt Jefferson ending up in the amazing Jefferson Park area on the northwest side;finally the grand scene over the park and Mt Jefferson from atop Park Ridge and the short pull into the wonders of the Olallie Lake region.
There are other magical areas to be found within the Oregon sections of the PCT, for sure - the west side of Mt Hood and the walk from Wahtum Lake onto Benson Plateau high above the Columbia River, for example. Here, in the Diamond Peak Wilderness area, the PCT takes you up close and personal to Diamond Peak itself. The trail skirts high around the mountain on its east side rising to almost 7000 feet as it rounds an eastern extrusion of the mountain. Walking on this section of the PCT can give you a keen sense of solitude and long reaching vistas to the north, east and south. A day hike can sometimes, with its magic lead you to thoughts or wanders of more mammoth propositions.
For hikers and backpackers, Divide Lake on the Mt Yoran trail makes an admirable destination. The waters are crystal clear and green, reflecting the green of the surrounding forests. Mt Yoran and the other volcanic plug, Corgi Peak, rise dramatically above the little lake. There are other small alpine tarns to be found just south of Divide Lake and around all can be found flat unimproved areas where you can pitch your room for the night. The Mt Yoran trail continues for another 0.8 miles beyond Divide Lake over a small pass to connect with the Pacific Crest trail just over on the east side of the crest.
For all of Diamond Peak’s obscurity and exclusivity, Divide Lake and Mt Yoran are probably among the best-known features of the Wilderness Area. Weekends will find the small trailhead parking area full and more than one tent set up beneath the high lava crags of Yoran.
Found on the north end of the long Diamond Peak crest, Mt Yoran and the unnamed volcanic plug just to its south - which is actually higher by 38 feet; lets call it Corgi Peak, just for the heck of it - represent a kind of final fling for the lava vents found on Diamond. Yoran is an impressive lava plug that blasts high above some gorgeous little alpine lakes found on its south side. There is a trail in which is only about four miles in from Forest Road 23. The trail only gains about 1400 feet and does so in an easy enough fashion. For the most part, the way is a walk in the woods, but you do pass the pretty little Notch Lake at about one mile and there are some pretty views of Diamond Peak along the latter part of the trail before you reach Mt Yoran. If climbing is your bag, Mt Yoran, I have seen the mountain rated as a class 4 peak, and many of its sides do earn that rating, but having seen the main route - a gully on the southeast side rising directly above Divide Lake - and watching climbers going up, I would put that route at more of a class 3 - which is still a worthy and airy afternoon’s proposition.
Centerpiece of its own federal wilderness area, Diamond Peak rises to 8744 feet with several smaller peaks popping up along its couple mile-long crest. Good forest roads give access to the area from several directions and there are many lakes to be found along the slopes of the mountain in most directions. Most people see Diamond Peak from along OR 58 near the gorgeous blue waters of Odell Lake. As one of the Cascades’ major volcanic peaks, Diamond Peak is certainly one of the easiest to climb - a slog off the Pacific Crest Trail. The mountain is not as well-know as many of the other Cascade peaks, so you can certainly find solitude here. Easiest access from Oakridge is via either Forest Highway 23, which gives you a way to get into the Mt Yoran/Notch Lake/Vivian Lake area of the northwest section of the wilderness area, or Forest Highway 21, with which you can get to Summit Lake or Timpanogas Lake, both on the south side just outside of the official wilderness boundary. Both highways branch off of OR 58 just east of Oakridge - follow the sign to Hills Creek Dam. The two forest highways then split about a half mile farther along before the dam - Road 21 and 23 then follow different banks of the large reservoir en route to wilderness glories.
The average yearly flow is approximately 50,000 gallons per minute. That is enough water to supply the needs of nearby Eugene and Springfield, Oregon. The peak water flow would be... twice that. The average flow develops approximately 910 horsepower, or enough kilowatts to meet the electrical needs of 365 households. It takes water at the interior of the water column about 4 seconds to fall the 286 to the base of the falls. The force of the water hitting at the base is the same as two full-size cars crashing onto the ground at 46 miles per hour, every second... forever. I got these "falls facts" off a sign at the Salt Creek Falls lookout.
I didn't do that because the trail was still snowy and muddy and well... I didn't have hiking boots. So, if you'd like to, perhaps plan ahead.