There is a reason people call this the “crown jewel” of state parks. At 9,200 acres, it is Oregon’s largest and most diverse state park. To my knowledge, no other state park has a total of ten unique waterfalls, some of which you can actually walk around the back of! I’m not sure you can find many other great opportunities like this anywhere else in the world.
The Perfect Day Trip from Portland or Salem
A short 25-mile drive east of Salem will get you there. Plan to spend at least a full day here if you want to explore everything. The Trail of Ten Falls Loop is a moderate, 7.2-mile hike will take through all ten of the falls. The trails are very developed – you won’t be negotiating any rocky footpaths or dodging through thick brush. However, the trails can get a bit steep in places (this IS waterfall country), and there are a few steps to climb. But as long as you bring plenty of water and good hiking shoes, you’ll be fine. No pets are allowed on this trail.
There are three main trailheads: South Falls, Winter Falls, and North Falls. All are connected in the same seven-mile loop. So you can hike them all at once, or just hike one or two. At South Falls there is also a café and conference center.
Hiking isn’t the only thing you can do here. There is a primo swimming hole at South Falls. Fishing in many areas. Picnic areas galore. And of course, camping! (First come, first served.) There are over 20 miles of designated trails for biking, horseback riding, and hiking.
I started out at South Falls. As I passed the café and began my descent down the trail, I could already feel the water in the air, even though it was a sunny day and it hadn’t rained for a couple of weeks. My ears confirmed my suspicions that I was close when the sound of rushing waters increased in intensity. The footpath became moist and I noticed the heady smell of wet earth and foliage. I paused, taking a deep breath, fully experiencing the aroma. This is what I leave the city for!
Suddenly there it was…in all its majestic awesomeness. In one of the most spectacular trails in Oregon, the path leading behind the waterfall seems to be literally carved into the center of the cliff, and takes you directly BEHIND the waterfall!
Behold, the BACKSIDE OF WATER !!
FACTS TO NOTE:
- There is a $5.00 day-use pass per vehicle when parking anywhere in the park (self-service kiosks are at all major trailheads.).
- Go Here for more information on the park.
- Bring plenty of water, good walking shoes (waterproof ones are a good idea, as it can get muddy in places), sun protection, hiking poles if you prefer, and SNACKS.
- The Trail of Ten Falls Loop is between 8 and 9 miles long in total. You can walk it all at once, or there are smaller loops around each of the major falls (North, Winter and Sound Falls)
- Camping is first come, first served. There is swimming at South Falls as well as a café.
- Pets are only allowed in certain areas, and not on the Trail of Ten Falls. Please head the signs.
- For a pdf map of Silver Falls State Park, go here.Hard copies are available at the trails heads.
IF YOU CAN…
Try to stop by the Frank Lloyd Wright Gorden House located 20 miles northwest of Silver Falls State Park. If you are any kind of a fan of architecture, you must have a visit. They have guided tours by reservation.