Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Silver Creek Falls State Park, 03-19-11

Warning: Long post alert!
A week or so ago Ron and I took a hike at Silver Falls State Park. Warm summer afternoons will find hundreds of people hiking at the park. It's a constant battle of passing slow hikers...usually in groups, and bumping past oncoming hikers. Not exactly a peaceful forest experience. Take a hike on a cool, wet afternoon, and you'll find far fewer hikers.

The hike is called the Trail of Ten Falls. On this day we will visit 6 of the 10 falls, and be treated to a number of unofficial falls running off the slopes of the canyon.

South Falls is probably the most visited of all the falls. It's close to the day use area, and can be viewed without hiking down the canyon. The trail goes behind the falls, but we opt to take the foot bridge for the better view. An aside, my co-worker claims to have repelled over South Falls (and came up short on rope). 
South Falls, 177 ft.

Canyon Trail
Off we go down the trail and to a series of stairs taking us deeper into the canyon. The next fall is Lower South Falls. Plan to get wet. The trail goes behind the falls Refreshing in the summer, a bit brisk in early spring.
Stairs and more stairs
Lower South Falls, 93 ft.
Hiking behind the fall
Once past the falls there is an option to return to the day use area or continue on. We continue on to what is one of my favorite sections of the trail.
Lower North Falls, 30 ft.
Following a short spur trail we come to the largest falls in the park.
Double Falls, 178 ft.
Back to the main trail...
Drake Falls, 27 ft.
Middle North Falls, 106 ft.
 We follow another spur trail down to Middle North Falls. Ron took the photo above of Middle North Falls, and it turned out much better than the one I took!
Sign to the right: Trail Closed
Hmmm...Wonder what's back here!
Behind the fall
We return to the main trail and hike a little farther to the next intersection at another bridge. Here is another option to climb up to the canyon rim trail and return to the parking lot. I've done the rim trail, and don't find it all that enjoyable compared to hiking in the canyon along the creek. We decide instead to return the way we came.

We've had nice weather so far, but the dark clouds have rolled in and the rain finally catches us.
The rain catches us...lovely outfit!
Hiking out of the canyon is a climb up about 4 switchbacks, followed by a flat, pleasant jaunt back to the day use area. Total hike: a little over 5 1/2 miles.
Switchbacks out of the canyon
We pay a visit to the little gift shop set up by "Friends of Silver Falls Park". This is new, since my last visit. Afterwords, it's lunch at the old lodge. It used to be that they just served a few snacks, but now they have sanwiches as well. We fuel up before heading down the road. Look what's falling when we get back to the car.
At the parking lot...
Just down the road....
...and a few minutes later.
We had briefly considered taking the bikes, but since we've been surprised by bad weather on past visits to the park, we thought better of it. Good thing we drove. Later we will see a rider outside of Salem. At least someone got a ride in.


  1. Dear Bluekat:

    This was a delightful hike through, and around, falling water. Waterfalls are good for the soul. It's a shame (for me) that the better ones entail something of a hike to see. And it wasn't long at all... Certainly not compared to my endless epics. March is a ricky month. My group posted a ride for Saturday, and snow is now in the forecast.

    Nice post.

    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads
    The Bermuda Triangle of Biker Bogs

  2. Although we've driven/ridden by the State park many times we've never actually stopped to hike. It is on my to-do list. Especially now that I've seen the photos of the trails and waterfalls.

    As always, great pictures Kari (and Ron).

  3. Wow, what an enchanting looking place. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoy the pictures of the the flowing water and the falls. The snow pictures, not so much. Seen plenty of them recently and much closer to home :)

  4. Fabulous looking place. No wonder the park gets busy on some days. Walking behind the falls must have been fun, and probably wet. Was that snow or hail?

  5. I love waterfalls, and those pics are beautiful. I bet it was a good decision to take the four-wheeler... not fun to be up two wheels with sleet on the ground. Great write-up, thank you!

  6. BlueKat:

    always go with your gut feel. That's what I do, and most often it was the best decision. You don't want to be on two wheels on slippery roads. I can't walk all that far and 5+ miles would be an eternity, especially in my riding boots.

    That was a nifty waterfall. You could hide under there on a hot summer day . Could you go back and take a photo shooting out from behind the water ?

    Riding the Wet Coast

  7. Magnificent photos and like everyone said, waterfalls are the best - good for the soul. You live in a lovely area. My knees give me grief on a decent tramp these days but the discovery of hiking poles has helped quite a bit.

    Thanks for the great post!

  8. Hi Jack,
    I agree, waterfalls are good for the soul, or most any moving water. I love to sit and watch a river flow by. I hope your snow day turns to sunshine!

  9. Hi Trobairitz,
    It would make a nice "ride and hike" afternoon. It's definitely one of those must-see kind of places, especially nice in autumn when the leaves change. Thanks

  10. Hi Keith
    Hopefully we won't have too many more of those snow pictures! ;)

  11. Hi Gary,
    Walking behind the falls is quite refreshing in summer. On this day I was sort of dashing along quickly, trying to stay dry, and to keep the camera dry.

    It was a soft, mushy hail. One quick little storm and then it was gone.

  12. Hi Sonja
    Thanks. If you like waterfalls, this place has them in spades. The whole park is quite huge, with a few other lesser known falls.

  13. Hi Bob,
    So true, going with the gut feeling. I definitely didn't want to ride through that.

    I wouldn't hike it in motorcycle boots either...crocs would be nice and cushy though!

    lol - Ya mean like this one?
    Behind the falls
    Courtesy of Ron. :)

  14. Hi Geoff,
    Thank you. I haven't tried hiking poles, but I've heard good things. My knees didn't bother me that day, but OMG my calves were killing me two days later.

  15. Like everyone else I love waterfalls. That looks like a great hike and fun to do. Very nice pictures!

  16. And they make "hiking poles" with a ¼x20 thread on top to screw into the camera. I like all the waterfall photos and can understand why the place gets crowded in the summer...

  17. Beautiful hike, pictures and day! I love Lower North Falls just because of the logs jammed at the bottom of it. :) It's great that the park service actually planned and routed trails behind the falls! Out my way people cross the barriers and get hurt with the slipperiness. Nice that they planned ahead to let people enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing!


  18. You walked all that way? I could do it but I'm not sure I'd want to. Hmmm, maybe I found my incentive to buy another dual sport bike!

    Seriously, thanks for sharing the trip.

  19. Hi Ken
    Thanks. It is a nice hike, and mostly fun, excepting maybe the climb back up out of the canyon. :)

    Hi Richard,
    Hiking poles with a camera thread. I like that. I don't have steady hands, but I don't like to pack the tripod on longer hikes. Might be a good compromise.

  20. Hi Lori,
    Thank you. It is cool how the trails go behind the falls. I'm not sure they would design it that way today, in this age of litigation. Surprising they haven't closed it off, but fortunately it's been left as is.

    Hi Irondad,
    A dual sport would be a blast on the trails. I suspect the park service would frown on such antics. Just a hint: we've camped there, and the day use area is accessible to campers after closing. Wouldn't be hard at all the sneak that dual sport in along the bike path...then the place is yours! :)

  21. I realized that I did not have a link to your site on my blog so I corrected it. I limited my links to those who ride to work somewhat regularly. You certainly do that.

    Hope you're ok with my adding your blog to my site. I'm certainly honored by it!

  22. Hi Irondad,
    Of course I'm okay with that. Honored by it actually, thank you.

    It's funny, but I never planned to commute when I took up riding, and now that ends up being most of my riding.

  23. Hi there,

    Some very nice shots taken.
    Pity about the rain in the last post, some times ya just gotta do it..


  24. Hi Tony,
    Thank you. So true about the rain, but I'd rather be outdoors in the rain than be stuck inside. Thanks for stopping by!