At the Heart of Oregon: Silver Falls State Park

Staying at nearby private RV Park in the cute, historic town of Silverton, we were close to yet another famous Oregon waterfall park, Silver Falls State Park. This park has ten waterfalls of various sizes and a beautiful wooded walk between them. The Trail of Ten Falls can be done a couple of different ways depending on how much you want to see or walk, but of course we had to do it all.

The day use fee was $5 and we parked at the South Falls trailhead. Navigating where to find the appropriate trailhead was a little confusing as there are no markers on the roads, or on the trail map we obtained at the visitor’s center for that matter, labeling the hike as the “Trail of Ten Falls”. After speaking to an employee inside the visitor’s center, however, we learned that both the North and South Falls trailheads lead into the larger trail, and were happy with our choice.

To walk to all of the falls is an 8.7 mile loop hike with an unknown amount of elevation change. We guessed that it was between 500 and 1000 feet overall, but since the signage, what the employee and internet told us were all drastically different, it was difficult to tell.

We began by following the Canyon Trail through the woods. Most of the trail is shaded and cool, and the area is even labeled as a temperate rainforest, so it is lush, green, and very pretty throughout. The fact that the trail follows the river helps to keep it cool, though slightly humid, also.

The first fall we reached was South Falls. A beautiful, straight down fall off a rock ledge, it did not disappoint.

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We then crossed a small footbridge, otherwise the trail leads back to the parking lot. As we approached Lower South Falls, we soon realized that this was one of the falls we would be able to walk behind! Surrounded by canyon walls, we were able to feel the power and mist of the falls as we walked past.

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After continuing through a beautiful wooded area for some time, we came upon Double Falls, which were smaller, but no less pretty.

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Right by it was Lower North Falls, a smaller one of which we couldn’t get as great a view.

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The next few falls were of varied sizes and strengths. As we were here as autumn was approaching, some of the falls were running at less than capacity, or dry, and we certainly came across a few of these. Others were small and pretty, while Middle North Falls was another spectacular one that we could walk behind. It was a narrower stream in late summer, but in peak spring season, it can run much wider.

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So close you could feel the spray!

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We were a little tired, but did not take the turn towards Winter Trail that would have taken us on a loop back to the parking lot, and continued on the Canyon Trail towards North Falls.

North Falls was the biggest highlight of the day and made us glad that we decided to forge through and complete the trail (though there is easier access from the North Falls trailhead parking area for those who would like to see this fall without a long hike). Large and forceful, yet pouring almost delicately down from a cliff and into a glistening pool surrounded by bright green foliage, it is a gorgeous fall. What makes it particularly special though is that the trail takes hikers behind the fall, through a large cavernous cutout under the cliff from which it falls, much bigger than that behind South Falls. It is difficult to describe with words, and even the photos don’t quite do it justice. All I can say is that it was one of the most breathtaking sights we have seen thus far on our trip. (That is really saying something given that it has a lot of competition of beautiful sights!)

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We continued to take the 0.3 mile spur to Upper North Falls, a pretty sight that was worth it.

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Much of the Rim Trail back to the South Falls trailhead was through shaded forest, but it was a beautiful and peaceful walk. By the end, we were a little bit tired, but finished with a good amount of stamina and felt accomplished, as it seems that a relatively small percentage of people who visit complete the whole loop. It is a worthwhile loop though no matter how long or short you take it, and we were happy to have had the time to discover this little gem of a park.

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3 thoughts on “At the Heart of Oregon: Silver Falls State Park

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