Silver Falls State Park Things to Do

  • Pano view from behind the Falls with the cavern
    Pano view from behind the Falls with the...
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  • November rains fill the creek and the falls
    November rains fill the creek and the...
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  • View from behind the waterfall
    View from behind the waterfall
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Best Rated Things to Do in Silver Falls State Park

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    The Trail of the Ten Waterfalls

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 21, 2009

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    There are 24 miles of trails in Silver Falls State Park but the big attraction here is The Trail of the Ten Waterfalls. This 8.7 mile trail has been designated a National Recreation Trail for good reason. It not only passes by ten very pretty waterfalls, it goes through a beautiful section of lush temperate rain forest that will leave you falling asleep at night with nothing but green on your mind. Four of the ten waterfalls are quite spectacular and the trail walks you behind them for amazing up close views. It is a classic up and down trail offering a great workout but not one to ruin your day with effort. If in the park and in reasonable shape, by all means do this hike and don't settle for just walking to the main two park falls.

    a beautiful lush trail carved our of rock & under many falls
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    Upper & Lower South Falls

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 21, 2009

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    While there are many waterfalls on the Trail of the Ten Waterfalls, the best are at polar ends of the loop hike. Some of the falls in between are more like cascades and surely others are a lot more impressive in times of high water. We did the hike in early July and undoubtedly the water level was not at its best. That said, the South Falls were still flowing nicely and with their lush setting still very beautiful. The Upper South Falls are 177 feet high and can be easily seen from the rim trail but to really get a better perspective, it's best to take the trail right under them. A mile down the trail and down 185 steps are the Lower South Falls. While not quite as high at 93 feet, it is a wider waterfall forming a curtain that you can also walk behind.

    Upper South Falls Lower South Falls
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    North Falls

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 21, 2009

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    Testament to the Trail of the Ten Waterfalls great design, it finishes with one of its best at the North Falls at the polar opposite end of where you began at South Falls. Though not quite as impressive from above as South Falls, North Falls biggest charm is in the cavernous cutout trail that goes not only behind it but forms a half circle in its amphitheater-like natural enclosure of the falls. This makes for some of the most stunning photo opportunities of the hike and provides a great place to have a snack in the very cool shade of the overhang.

    North Falls enlarge to see D sitting under the falls trail carved into rock
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    Go for a Hike! Enjoy the Waterfalls and Wilderness

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is, after all, why you probably came all the way out to Silver Falls State Park to begin with. If you wanted to picnic, you could have done that in town! (Though the park has a really nice set of picnic facilities that are very popular in the summer months.)

    There are quite a number of different trails in the park, and several different loops are possible:

    Hike the Perimeter: This is an approximately 12 mile loop around the outside of the park. It involves the Canyon Trail, which will get you to most major waterfalls in the park, and several lesser trails leading between South Falls and the Perimeter Trail. The Perimeter Trail is then used as a connection along the east side of the park. The falls this skips are Winter Falls (which could be accessed by taking an approximately 1 mile total detour off the Canyon Trail onto the Winter Falls trail and return) and Upper North Falls, which can be accessed at north end of the Perimeter Trail by taking the out-and-back Upper North Falls trail.

    The Trail of 10 Falls: The Trail of Ten Falls is actually a combination of the Canyon Trail, the Rim Trail, the trail between North Falls and Upper North Falls, and the link between the Canyon Trail and Rim Trail at Winter Falls. This produces an approximately 7 mile total loop, plus some covering of the same ground twice due to the out-and-back nature of Upper North Falls, plus Winter Falls will require some sort of diversion as it can not be seen from the Canyon Trail, and only the top most two inches or so can be seen from the Rim Trail. To really see Winter Falls you need to come up the hill on the link trail at Winter Falls that connects the Canyon Trail and Rim Trail.

    Smaller Loops: these include approximate 3 mile loops that include Upper North Falls, North Falls, Twin Falls and Winter Falls in a loop that hits the northeast part of the park, and an approximate 3 mile loop that only touches South Falls and Lower South Falls. There are also several loops that go through the forest only, and don't even touch any of the waterfalls.

    Take a look at the various maps of the park (they are posted in a number of locations), and look at the distances: don't bite off more than you can chew, because unless you have someone who can carry you back home there is no alternative once you get to the more remote parts of the canyon.

    If you just want to see the waterfalls, then one of the maps that features just the "Trail of Ten Falls" will work fine for you. However, if you want to go beyond that into the forest, you will want one of the larger maps that includes the several major trails that go to the other parts of the park. The "Trail of Ten Falls" is by far the most popular trail in the park, but it only covers the northwest corner of the entire park.

    Steep canyons + Lots of Water = Waterfalls Bottom of some of the falls rarely see sun one of dozens of smaller unnamed falls in the park Lower South Falls: one of the 10 major falls here
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    Upper North Falls - 65 feet (20 meters)

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Upper North Falls is 65 feet (20 meters) tall and is the farthest west of the major waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. The trail leading to it is almost completely level, and is only about 0.25 miles (less than half a kilometer) long.

    Despite the name, Upper North Falls is not the furthest north water fall in Silver Falls State Park. The name comes from it being on the North Fork of Silver Creek.

    It is extremely easy to miss the "North Falls" parking lot area. Coming from Silverton, you will enter a straight stretch on highway 214 near the Group Camp Area. When you come to the next curve, start to slow down, as you will be approaching the curve that has the parking lot. The parking lot will be on your right if you are coming from Silverton. See my Silver Falls Transportation Tip for more information on all that.

    After parking your car and paying the park use fee, and putting the label in your car, you will be able to take any of several different trails. One of them is the trail to Upper North Falls. These trails are fairly well marked with signs, but sometimes the signs on the trails disappear.

    Along the trail to Upper North Falls, the trail runs on the south bank of the North Fork of Silver Creek. There are a number of places where seasonal (ie, winter or after several days of rain) streams come over rocks next to the trail. Sometimes this means that the trail is wet and a little slippery in places. Watch your step.

    For those who bird watch, there are some birds that you might see. Dippers like this sort of place, and on Feb 2, 2009 I did see a dipper standing in the rushing water of the stream near the falls. I was also quite astonished to see ducks fly past, but they moved quick enough between the trees that I did not get a good look at them to see what type they were.

    If you want to turn this into a day trip, it is possible to take the Perimeter Trail or Rim Trail or Canyon Trail from here to various other locations in the park.

    North Falls is just slightly downstream from the parking lot, but the trails aren't as easy as the wide, level trail to Upper North Falls. See my North Falls tip.

    Upper North Falls, furthest east waterfall in park Trail to North Falls is well marked at junctions one of several small seasonal falls along trail Upper North Falls from trail to falls along stream looking down stream from Upper North Falls end
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    LOWER NORTH FALLS

    by mtncorg Updated Nov 22, 2014

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    0.3 miles in the opposite direction from the parking lot on OR 214 - which is not a very large lot and will probably be filled on the weekends - going downstream along the North Fork of Silver Creek, you come to the glorious Lower North Falls. This waterfall is the most dramatic on the North Fork. It tumbles over basaltic cliffs and you can see the huge boulders that have given way below - boulders the size of small trucks. The roar is deafening. The Canyon Trail winds down from above moving behind the waterfall passing in the massive cavern formed there. From here the trail continues downstream as part of the Ten Falls trail system. Seven miles to Upper South Falls.

    Waters tumbling over Lower North Falls A bit darker and more intense in November View from behind the waterfall Resting on a bench behind the waterfall Pano view from behind the Falls with the cavern
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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    North Falls - 136 feet (41.5 meters) high

    by glabah Updated Feb 7, 2009

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    Immediately down stream from the North Falls parking lot, and somewhat further downstream from Upper North Falls, the North Fork of Silver Creek tumbles over another bassalt rock formation. North Falls, at 136 feet (41.5 meters) is over twice the height of Upper North Falls.

    This is the only falls in Silver Falls State Park that can be seen from a road. If you are heading south on Highway 214, just after passing the North Falls parking lot, there is a wide spot to the road with 15 minute time limits on it. This is the highway view point for North Falls.

    Another place to view the falls is the Canyon Trail. From the North Falls Parking Lot, follow the signs to the Canyon Trail, which winds down the side of the canyon, and eventually crosses to the other side of the stream by passing behind the water fall. This trail provides the closest view of the falls, but getting this close to the falls doesn't provide much of an overall scenery and waterfall view. Furthermore, in any time of year other than winter the view is a little harder due to the leaves on the trees.

    The Rim Trail provides another viewing opportunity that is much further away from the falls, and provides an excellent view of the falls and the surrounding forest as well. To get to this point from the North Falls parking lot, it is necessary to follow the Rim Trail (left fork in trail, then left fork in trail) and stay on the trail about 1/4 of a mile (less than half a km). You will come to an unmarked area where there are no trees blocking the view of North Falls.

    North Falls from Canyon Trail, approaching falls North Falls from Rim Trail, February 2, 2009 North Falls from Canyon Trail, behind the falls North Falls view from downstream on Canyon Trail under and north of North Falls, from Canyon Trail
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    Drake Falls - deep in canyon and 27 feet tall

    by glabah Updated Feb 11, 2009

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    Named after the photographer and Silverton resident whose tireless campaign to preserve the Silver Falls area resulted in the creation of Oregon's most popular state park, Drake Falls is one of the more modest waterfalls in the park. It is only 27 feet (slightly over 8 meters) tall, and is located in an area that makes it very difficult to see. It is at the bottom of an extremely narrow rock walled canyon, so that not even a walking path can be built to the falls.

    While it is possible to see some distance into the canyon downstream from the falls, there is a tight curve in the canyon at the pool that forms downstream from the falls. This means you can see the pool from the Canyon Trail down stream from the waterfall, but you can not see Drake Falls themselves. Note the tight curve in the stream at the pool shown in Photo 5.

    The only way to see the falls in any way is to climb onto the Drake Falls viewing platform, which hangs over the cliff above the falls.

    For more information about June Drake and the efforts to create Silver Falls State Park, see my June Drake Photo Collection tip.

    Drake Falls from viewing platform, Feb 2, 2009 Drake Falls viewing platform hangs over cliff deep pool & clear water under Drake Falls platform Drake Falls from viewing platform, November 2004 Pool downstream from Drake Falls, November 2004
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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Canyon Trail - trail along the stream by falls

    by glabah Updated Feb 9, 2009

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    Walking along the Canyon Trail is the only way to see a number of the falls in Silver Falls State Park. The canyon is deep and sunlight seldom reaches the canyon. Many places never see sunlight at all.

    The trail runs east-west along the North Fork of Silver Creek, and north-south along the South Fork of Silver Creek. The north end of the trail is at North Falls and the south end of the trail is at South Falls, forming an approximate upside down L shape. The total length of the trail is about 4 miles from one end to the other.

    It is possible to make a loop, approximately 7 to 10 miles or more in length, depending on what other alternative trails are used to create the loop. Most people who walk the entire loop use the shortest path to complete the loop, which is the Rim Trail along the top of the canyon, which creates an approximately 7 mile long trail loop, depending on how many branch trails and the Winter Trail cutoff is done. It is also possible to use the Perimeter Trail or Maple Ridge Trail or one of the several unmarked fire roads to create variations of this loop.

    In the summer, the canyon offers a failry cool environment, but this is also when the park is at its peak in terms of summer visitors. Also, the views of the falls are somewhat more limited due to the amount of vegetation being greater in the summer months.

    The Photos:

    Photo 1 shows a typical location of the trail along the North Fork of Silver Creek. The canyon is deep and steep, and runs east to west. Therefore, sunlight rarely gets a chance to shine into the canyon. This is particularly the case in winter. However, the bare trees allow for better viewing of the waterfalls and creeks, and there is more water in the falls. Therefore, there are many advantages to visiting the park in winter.

    Photo 2 shows the North Fork of Silver Creek near approximately 1/4 of a mile (half a km) from the base of North Falls.

    Photo 3 shows a bridge over the North Fork of Silver Creek, with a deep but clear pool downstream from the bridge. This is about 1 mile from the base of Lower South Falls.

    As you can see in Photo 4, in some locations winter sunlight does enter the canyon. It is, however, only in a very few locations.

    Along with the 10 major waterfalls, most of which you can see from the Canyon Trail, there are several dozen unnamed waterfalls in the park. Photo 5 shows just one such waterfall on the North Fork of Silver Creek.

    Canyon Trail along the North Fork of Silver Creek Canyon Trail: North Fork of Silver Creek in Winter bridge over North Fork of Silver Creek, north end Sunlight! North Fork of Silver Creek, Canyon Trail unnamed Silver Creek water fall and Canyon Trail
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    Rim Trail: walk along the top edge of canyon

    by glabah Updated Feb 9, 2009

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    As the name suggests, the Rim Trail runs along the top of the canyon created by the North Fork of Silver Creek. It thus forms a walking connection between South Falls and North Falls that requires little elevation gain. The entire length of the trail, however, does not run along the edge of the canyon. The trail runs along the edge of the canyon between Winter Falls and North Falls. Between Winter Falls and South Falls, the trail is in dense forest.

    There are a number of places where this trail could be a bit hazardous as it truly does run along the edge of the canyon rim.

    Unfortunately, the trail also runs very close to Highway 214, which is quite busy and noisy. While quite a bit longer in length, a much more pleasant route between North Falls and South Falls would be to use the Perimeter Trail. However, doing this also avoids the great view of North Falls visible between the trees along the trail.

    view deep into North Fork of Silver Creek from rim North Falls from Rim Trail: note steep trail edge the Rim Trail is close to the edge of the canyon Almost all of the Rim Trail is within dense forest
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    Perimeter Trail: completing the loop around park

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Not completed until approximately 2008, the Perimeter Trail completes a forest loop around the borders of Silver Falls State Park. This allows visitors to pass through a vast area of the park that before was relatively unknown to visitors.

    Most likely, it will still be relatively unknown to visitors. The trail has no water falls right now (though if the park border expands a little bit there are some four or five more falls just outside the borders of the park that might make good extensions to parts of this trail) and it doesn't offer a short cut between North Falls and South Falls like the Rim Trail does. Without a major attraction, most likely visitors will remain in the fairly small area of the park that has the waterfalls.

    On the other hand, the Perimeter Trail doesn't parallel a major highway the way the Rim Trail does, and provides a better wilderness experience - or at least and experience that is somewhat closer to being a wilderness experience.

    Perimeter Trail shown in red, others complete loop
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    South Falls

    by GuthrieColin Updated Jul 28, 2008

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    South Falls is the signature piece of the park. Certainly it is the most impressive at a vertical 177 foot (54 meter) drop. The falls are most commonly photographed from the bottom on the opposing side of a very scenic looking bridge that in conjunction with several deciduous trees frame the falls nicely.
    This fall is very easy to get good views of and one can walk completely around the falls including behind and above them. In times when the park is busy this amphitheater will be completely crowded and it will be difficult to even get a photo of the falls without people in the shot.
    To get a more intimate experience arrive late in the day when the crowds have moved on or continue along the trail or through the park to one of the 9 other excellent falls in the park.

    South Falls South Falls Base South Falls Undercut South Falls and Gorge South Falls
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    UPPER NORTH FALLS

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 20, 2005

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    A short walk from the North Falls parking lot along OR 214 will take you upstream along the North Fork of Silver Creek to the Upper Falls. The falls is 66 feet high and mist is everywhere in the air. The trail ends in some stone stairs that go down to the basin at the bottom of the falls. Walk carefully along the wet mossy rocks. On the way in you will pass a couple of other small creeks that are trying their best to emulate the larger creek, tumbling over basaltic ledges. The trail is flat and is only about 0.3 miles in.

    Upper North Falls on N Fork of Silver Creek November rains fill the creek and the falls Foam and grey in dank November
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  • GuthrieColin's Profile Photo

    North Falls

    by GuthrieColin Written Jul 27, 2008

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    North Falls at 136 feet (41 meters) is the tallest waterfall along the North Fork of Silver Creek. The Falls are not as busy as South Falls but have their own appeal.
    The undercut cavern behind the falls is much deeper than many in the park and even has several benches to sit and enjoy the view. This cavern, like the others in the park, was created where hard volcanic layers are stacked on top of weaker layers of rock which erode at faster rates.
    Good views of the falls are not as easy as some of the others in the park but there is a viewpoint along the highway which allows long distance but clear views.

    North Falls Cavern North Falls North Falls North Falls From Hwy North Fall
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    Lower North Falls

    by GuthrieColin Written Jul 27, 2008

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    As a nice change from the plummeting waterfalls that the park is so well known for, this waterfall is a long cascading 30 foot (9 meter) waterfall which certainly gains more appeal in the periods of lower water. It is also located far enough down the trails that many of the crowds will not make it this far.
    It seems like many waterfalls end up gaining the nuisance logs that become lodged in their path. But after a while these logs become signature pieces. The log that has become stuck at this fall certainly adds to the overall scene.

    Lower north Falls Above Lower north Falls Lower North Falls
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