Fondest memory: The campground was as my cousin had foretold, a real beauty and a bargain at $16. We opted for two nights to wait out the heatwave in the lush forest that provided much relief from it as well as a spiritual uplift. The trail was the real bonus. After spending the previous four months hiking some of the nation's best, this one did not falter or take a second seat. It was the kind of hike you can't help but enjoy. At just under ten miles, it was long enough to get a work out in but short enough to never want it to be over. Ups and downs for variety and if walking through a lush forest with sun streaming through for effect doesn't interest you, I don't know why you came in the first place. The waterfalls were a mixed bag with some of the ten not really anything special but there were at least four you had to say “ah” at. I don't know anyone that doesn't like walking behind a waterfall and you get that opportunity four times on this beguiling trail. In fact, this was one trail that almost finished too soon but after a hot shower and sitting in our equally lush campsite, it seemed just about the perfect length. Listening to locals pays off especially when you're too smart to listen to your cousin.
It felt so good to be back on a trail again, it could have been one far less pretty and it wouldn't have mattered. As it was, it was one of surprising scenic beauty. Sure, we had heard about the falls but no one quite prepared us for the lush forest we now walked in wonder through. Up and down would be a better description, but that felt great too. The Oregon coast had provided a nice rest from the rigors of hiking and backpacking that had been a big chunk of our six-month trip but aside from a few short walks, it didn't provide much exercise. We would normally have gone straight from there to Portland but the city was experiencing a heat wave that had kept us on the coast a day longer than we had planned already.
While camping with my cousin in northern California the week before, he had mentioned that Silver Falls State Park in Oregon was one of his favorite places to camp of all time. We tucked the information in the recesses of our brains and forgot about it somewhat as we were bowled over by the coastal scenery in the interim. But while hiking to Dry Creek Falls just off the coast, we ran into a couple from Salem, OR who said if we liked this hike we had to do the one at Silver Falls. This got our minds working and between the untypical temperatures in Portland and now two independent recommendations for Silver Falls, it seemed our fate was sealed. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Favorite thing: The South Falls Lodge was another CCC project. The Lodge, which resembles an oversized log cabin with a slanted roof, was originally constructed as a restaurant, although it was not used as such. Eventually, the lodge became the park's visitor's center and it is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Probably 99% of the people out on the park trails will be encountered somewhere along this trail - maybe 80% of these will be between Upper and Lower South Falls. There are many more miles of trails extending back into the forests behind the canyons. You can find the trail map at: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/images/pdf/silverfalls_trailmap.pdf
Fondest memory: Pick a nice sunny spot - not always easy to find in these densely forested canyons - and watch the waters tumble. Pick a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Favorite thing: The South Falls Lodge was another CCC project. The building, which looks like an oversized log cabin, was originally designed as a restaurant, although it was not used as such. Eventually, it became the park's visitor's center and it is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.