The waterfall enthusiast can literally wilt with happiness by embarking on this stunning hike through Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park. Even Washington residents have no excuse not to make the pilgrimage to this beautiful park, which holds its own against Washington favorites such as Franklin Falls and Twin Falls. The spectacular trail weaves over, around and sometimes even behind ten waterfalls towering between 27 and 178 feet. Visitors can escape the summer crowds by visiting the park in late autumn or early winter.

©Melissa Farage

The Trail

Set off from the trail and follow the signs over a wooden bridge then right to follow Silver Creek. Take a right at the trail fork to follow the Canyon Trail. Continue on the trail as it descends downward into the canyon on a wide, rocky path. Carefully pick your way down the slippery rocks and catch a glimpse of the first waterfall, cascading dramatically in front of a wide-mouthed cave. Follow the trail as it winds through the old lava cave, behind the dramatic falls. The trail weaves along the canyon’s side, adorned with the brilliant fall foliage of maple and alder.

©Melisa Farage

Roughly one a mile into the trail, you will be rewarded by the spectacular vista of Twin Falls. Visitors can enjoy the falls from a small fenced-off observation area before continuing down the trail. After a gradual descent, hikers can gawk at the dramatic cascade of North Falls from afar or get up-close-and-personal with the misty waterfall by taking a short side-trail. Continue along the trail to visit Drake Falls, which is visible from a fenced-up platform. The spectacular Middle North Falls cascades over the mouth of a volcanic cave, towering 106 feet in height and nearly 50 feet in width. Hikes can take the short Winter Trail half a mile to view the tall, narrow Winter Falls and return to the main trail. The gentle Lower North Falls is only a few steps farther down the Canyon Trail.

Continue along the Canyon Trail, crossing a footbridge that crosses rushing Silver Creek. From here the trail climbs up into hillsides adorned with devil’s club, salmonberries and fern. After roughly half a mile, the trail leads to an intersection. Take a right to stay on the Canyon Trail, and continue the steady climb to reach the stunning Lower South Falls. Continue along the trail and you will slowly find the forest opening up to afford a vista of South Falls. Cross the footbridge to pass Frenchie Falls, then take a right to follow the trail as it veers to the right behind the 177-foot cascade of South Falls.

Trail Details

Season: Late Autumn

Length: 4.5 miles each way

Difficulty: Easy

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 220 Feet

Maps: USGS: Drake Crossing, Oregon

Open To: Hikers, Dogs

Passes and Permits Required: NW Forest Pass or Oregon State Parks Day-Use

Directions:

From I-5 take exit 282A towards Canby/Hubbard. Merge onto Portland-Hubbard Highway, and continue onto OR-551 S/Hubbard Cutoff Road NE. Turn left onto OR-99 S/Pacific Highway E. Take a left onto Young Street, and continue onto OR-214 S/Silverton Road. Take a left to stay onto OR-214 S, then turn right onto E C St. Take a left onto OR-214 S/N Water St and follow OR-214 S. Take a right in .2 miles, and a left in .1 miles to arrive at the well-marked trailhead parking lot.

©Melissa Farage
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