Hiker’s guide to Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Hidden in the countryside between Eugene and Portland lies Silver Falls State Park. This park is home to the Trail of Ten Falls Loop hike which features multiple over 100-foot waterfalls. If you are anywhere near the area, this is a trail you have to check out.
Getting to Silver Falls State Park is a breeze from all directions. The park is located 30 minutes off of the 5 freeway, just outside of Salem city. No need to have four-wheel drive or high clearance vehicles to get the park. The road is an open, winding, two-lane highway that runs through the farmland’s rolling hills.
Once you arrive at the park, you will need to pay for entrance. A day use parking pass is only $5, which means you will only be paying 50 cents a waterfall! The park is very popular year around and predominately on weekends. If you are planning on visiting on a Saturday or Sunday, I would recommend arriving before 8:00 AM to start hiking.
The trail itself is an 8.7-mile loop trail that follows along three main creeks/rivers. The trail is family friendly in the sense that there are no substantial climbs or tough sections. However, there is s strict no dog policy on the trail, so leave your pup at home! I would recommend getting a map or taking a picture of the map at the trailhead. There are a few trail junctions that could mess you up if you are not paying attention.
This trail is one of the best bang-for-your-buck trails in the entire state, maybe in the country. You come across giant waterfalls in every mile of the trail and can even walk behind three of them! From the parking lot, you will want to follow the signs pointing towards South Falls and begin your journey! Here are a couple of standout falls to get you excited about your visit to the park.
This waterfall is within five minutes walking distance from the parking lot, so if you are not physically capable of making all 8.7 miles, it is still an option. South Falls is a 177-foot picturesque set of falls that cascades into a giant pool below. This is also the first opportunity to walk behind a waterfall, and it is a must. The fall throws off so much water that you will be completely soaked by the end of the walk-behind loop. However, being damp for a measly 8-mile hike is completely worth it in this case.
Middle North Falls
This one is my personal favorites because of its beautiful wide-cascading look. The waterfall is around 100 feet tall and centuries of erosion have created an area to walk behind it. The rocks behind the waterfall are covered in water once again, so be sure to bring a raincoat! Although this is one of the most majestic waterfalls on the trail, it is not always open to the public. Because of the direction in which the water flows off of the lip, it is sometimes closed due to the danger of falling objects.
This 178-foot waterfall is hard to beat! It is the tallest in the park and is only 2.5 miles from the South Falls trailhead and 1.5 miles from the Winter Falls trailhead. This makes it an option for visitors that may not have three hours to dedicate to hiking the entire loop.
This waterfall got its name from the interesting structure of having two drops. The upper and smaller fall drops into a rock pool that then falls again to the forest floor. Although the waterfall itself is rather thin, it is one of the coolest falls you will see in the park.
North Falls is the third and final walk-behind waterfall. This one is unique because the river is very visible from behind the waterfall. You can see the water continue down the hillside, working its way around boulders and fallen trees. In addition, this walk-behind area is the largest of the three. There are even a couple benches on the trail to stop and enjoy a snack while checking out the falls.
Last but not least, Winter Falls is a must see on this trail. This waterfall got its name from the fact that it only flows in the Winter months. It is the most susceptible to changes in weather, which means that if you want to see it don’t plan on visiting in the summer. It is 134 feet tall and plunges directly into a slanted rock wall. This causes an immense amount of water to be thrown up and it obscures the view of the river below.
Other Park Information
If you are interested in staying at the park for more than one day that is an option. They have multiple different campsites (some very close to the waterfalls!) for car camping and backcountry camping.
In addition, the park has spacious grass areas near the main South Falls parking lot. There are picnic tables and grills which make it perfect for family reunions or weddings! If you would like to reserve a campsite or a location for a larger event, head to the park’s website for more information.
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