This past Thursday took me to a much anticipated trail out in Silverton, at Silver Falls State Park, the largest state park in Oregon. The trail we hiked was the Trail of Ten Falls, and was more stunning, beautiful, and cardio-pounding than I anticipated. A 8.7 mile loop featuring 10 waterfalls, there was a lot of beauty to behold.
The Trail of Ten Falls is comprised of other trails, and we started off on the Canyon Trail (which is what I’d recommend if you want to see all the falls). The first waterfall you’ll come to is the trail’s most popular waterfall, South Falls.
It might be hard to tell from the photo, but you can actually walk right behind the waterfall. In fact, there are four total waterfalls on this hike you are able to walk behind, and each one is magnificent. South Falls is the trail’s second tallest waterfall, at 177 feet.
After a mile, you’ll arrive at Lower South Falls, which stands at 93 feet.
This is another waterfall you can walk behind as the trail loops you through it. Here’s a view from behind:
Next you’ll be taken to Double Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the park. At 178 feet, it’s just one foot longer than South Falls. You won’t be able to view the falls on the loop without taking the side trail, so definitely go down the trail (which is an out and back trail) next to the sign pointing to Double Falls.
Further down you’ll find Drake Falls, which is the smallest waterfall on the trail, at just 27 feet.
Up next is Middle North Falls, which was perhaps one of my favorites on the trail. Standing at 106 feet, it was incredibly wide and beautiful to behold. There’s a separate trail you can take that will lead you behind this waterfall, which I highly recommend. At the very end of this trail is another viewpoint of the waterfall, which will give you the best shot if you’re taking photographs.
The next two waterfalls were kind of a bust for us. Several miles further down the trail, on the return loop was the trailhead for Winter Falls. This 134 foot waterfall had its own separate trail leading out to a viewpoint, which in hindsight we should have taken (to clarify, Andrew did suggest we take it, and I foolishly thought we could still view it further down the path. I was wrong). We walked over the crest of the falls, which itself did not look all that impressive, which is perhaps why I had the idea that a better view would be further down. After coming home and looking over some info of Winter Falls, it appears the waterfall relies on winter run-off and is best viewed in winter/early spring, so it’s possible we wouldn’t have seen very much of this waterfall anyway. At least that’s how I can justify not listening to my obviously wiser boyfriend about not taking the viewpoint trail.
Further down you’ll find Twin Falls, which stands at 31 feet. This waterfall was completely impossible to see from the trail, and there was no separate viewpoint trail to take to see it better. I tried to get a good shot of it, and I couldn’t. This waterfall will remain a mystery to me, because it was very well hidden on the trail, even at the spot the signage said we should be able to see it.
A mile away from disappointing Twin Falls is North Falls, an impressive 136 feet high.
This waterfall is not only a serious treat, but (if memory serves me correct and this is the right one) a welcome refuge from an intensive, steep uphill climb. Once we arrived I was sweaty and pant-y, but getting to go behind the waterfall gave me a cool blast of mist and I was instantly refreshed.
Last but not least is Upper North Falls, standing at 65 feet.
This one you have to go out of your way for, but it’s well worth it. You have to choose the trail that takes you underneath the highway bridge, and it will dead-end at the falls. I imagine on a hot summer day the pool of water here would be a welcome treat to dabble in.
To head back to the start of the loop, you’ll want to take the Rim Trail for the next 2.5-3 miles or so, which is a relatively even trail that will loop you back to the the trailhead. While there are no waterfalls on this trail, it’s still quite beautiful, as it gives you plenty of views of the trail and other scenery down below in the ravine almost the entire way back.
Overall, this trail was fulfilling all around. It fulfilled my need for outdoor beauty, and my need for a good work out. And at 8.7 miles, this was the longest trail I’ve hiked yet. I was also pleased to see in my trail book that this hike was rated moderate to difficult. Definitely the first trail I’ve taken that could be described as difficult. While most seasoned hikers probably feel this trail isn’t difficult, for me, with the numerous steep climbs and the sheer length of the trail, it was certainly my biggest trekking challenge yet, and one I completed in better shape than I imagined.
In the end we ended up completing the hike in 4.25 hours, and that included stopping for a snack of almonds and a rest, and all the times I stopped to get my photo shots. The trail guide estimates the full trail takes 5 hours, so all things considered, I might be more sprightly than I’ve been giving myself credit for 🙂
For a full trail map and Silver Falls State Park info, you can find it all on this handy dandy pdf taken from the Oregon state parks website.
Treks Down: 14, Treks to Go: 38