Silver Falls State Park is the home of quintessential Oregon beauty. More than ten large waterfalls can be visited in the park via walking trails. Silver Falls State Park is a short drive (about half an hour) east of Salem, near the town of Silverton, Oregon.
I got to revisit the park recently and hiked a 5.5 mile loop to see about 7 of the larger waterfalls on the North Side of the park. We started our hike at the North Falls Trailhead and visited Upper North Falls as our first stop. It is just north of the North Falls trailhead on a short trail spur.
We then headed back south past the trailhead and followed the canyon trail south. The canyon trail is where most of the waterfall action is.
The next falls on the hike was North Falls. It is a tall waterfall with an amphitheater-shape hollow in the rocks that allows the trail to pass right behind the falls. It is expansive and incredible. A bench allows hikers to sit and take it all in. As we passed behind the falls, some fellow hikers were enjoying a rest there. I commented on one of the hiker's Cascadian flag patch. This place is purely Cascadian waters. How appropriate to don the flag representing clear waters, clean air, and green forests in this place.
From North Falls we hiked south past the rather small Twin Falls to Middle North Falls. Take a short spur off the main Canyon Trail to see Middle North Falls. It may be my favorite falls of the day. It is short but wide with a trail that cuts just behind the water fall. You feel so close and surrounded by this fall. I highly recommend making it to this one while you are in the park!
We had a moment of solitude behind the falls. I recommend going in the off season, mid-week if you want this kind of privacy. We than made our way on to Drake Falls and then Double Falls. Drake Falls is quite small, but Double Falls is the tallest in the park.
We turned around after peaking at Lower Middle Falls and then went over the bridge toward Winter Falls. Lower Middle Falls is quite small, but Winter Falls is quite tall, though thin, even in winter and may dry up completely in summer. It is on a small tributary of the main Silver Creek that is only flowing at its strongest in the winter months.
From Winter Falls, we hiked back along the Rim Trail. The Rim Trail follows the road and is pretty uneventful though there is one good viewpoint of North Falls. I would only use the Rim Trail as a quick route to get back to your car, or perhaps if you don't feel up to the rigor of hiking down into the canyon via the canyon trail which can be somewhat steep and slippery in places.
Overall, I would say that Silver Falls is one of the gems of Oregon. It can seem crowded in the high season (summer), especially on weekends. It does have a slightly touristy kind of vibe. You will not feel like you are in the remote wilderness. But it is still a gem. And there is nowhere near the congestion that parks of this caliber encounter in more populated states.
For more history on the park please visit Friends of Silver Falls website for details on the rough and tumble past of Silver Falls before it was turned into a state park. There are tales of the previous owner who tried to lure visitors with gimmicks such as riding cars off of the falls and sending people over the falls in protective cases. Bizarre histoire!