Trail of Ten Falls–Hike through a canyon of thundering cascades!

Quick Facts:

Location: Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon

Land Agency: Oregon State Parks

Distance: 7.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Contact: Silver Falls State Park

Notes: Dogs prohibited; $5.00 per vehicle entrance fee

Access: From Salem, Oregon follow SR 22 east from I-5 for 5 miles to Exit 7. Then follow SR 214 (Silver Falls Highway) for 16.5 miles to trailhead at Silver Falls State Park.

Good to know: kid-friendly, historic CCC structures, spectacular waterfalls, snow-free winter hikes, practice Leave No Trace principles

 

Follow a loop traveling above, beside, beneath—and even behind a series of spectacular waterfalls at an old lava flow at the confluence of the South and North Fork Silver Creeks. Here among basalt cliffs the two forks along with several tributaries plunge into a spectacular canyon. There are ten significant falls in all including two that exceed 100 feet. Fall to spring is the best time to experience the magnificence of this place when abundant rainfall swells the waterways. During this time the water thunders through the canyon at a deafening level. And you’ll feel the waterfalls too as mist and spray fills the ravines and dampens the trail. Be sure to wear a good waterproof jacket before you begin.

Before starting off do note that dogs are prohibited on this trail. They are however permitted (on leash) on many of the other trails within the park, including the trail to Upper North Falls. This hike is kid-friendly, but you’ll want to keep an eye on young adventurers as there are plenty of steps, drop-offs and slick surfaces.

At more than 9,000 acres, Silver Falls is Oregon’s largest state park. And with close to 1.5 million annual visitors, it is one of the state’s most popular parks too. By far most visitors come to hike all or part of the classic Trail of Ten Falls. Not only are the falls a pure spectacle of nature, but the park’s infrastructure is a wonder too. The park opened in 1933 during the height of the Great Depression. Young men of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) were instrumental in developing the park, and many of their simple but elegant structures as well as masterfully-built trails still remain in place.

Starting from the South Falls Day Use Area you’ll pass some beautiful CCC-structures including the South Falls Lodge. The entire area is part of a national historic district. Now start hiking, immediately descending to pass behind 177-foot South Falls. Then follow the roiling South Fork Silver Creek and come to the Lower South Falls. Hike behind these falls as well and feel their fury.

The way then bends east to start following the North Fork Silver Creek upstream. Pass the Lower North Falls and take the short spur to Double Falls fed by a tumbling tributary. Surpassing South Falls by one foot, Double Falls is the highest waterfall in the park. Then continue up stream to Drake Falls and Middle North Falls. There are lots of side trails branching off of this classic loop if you want to shorten or add some more variety to your hike. Twin Falls are next and then it’s a little jaunt to the North Falls. Cross SR 214 and make the out and back to the Upper North Falls—then return to the main loop and visit waterfall number ten, Winter Falls. The loop ends by joining a bike trail for a short stint as you return away from the roaring waters and traverse quiet woodlands back to your starting area at the historic district. Now saunter around the old historic structures and perhaps sneak one more peak at the breathtaking South Falls

Craig Romano is an award winning author of more than 20 books. For detailed information on other nearby waterfall hikes, pick up a copy of his, Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge (Mountaineers Books)

For information on where to stay and on other things to do in and near Silverton, check out Northwest TripFinder.

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