Some hikes I randomly stumble across can end up being really good. Another chunk of new hikes I learn about come from recommendations from others or me seeing it online for example. Silver Falls State Park I found from of all places as a Microsoft logon background one day at work. The picture was one of its many beautiful waterfalls with this huge cave cut out behind it. It was so green and looked really peaceful. I don’t remember which waterfall this was but there are several that it could have been. After seeing this picture and knowing it was so close I had to make it down.
I started at the western side of the park near South Falls Day Use area. The map was a little confusing but I ended up taking the Rim Trail all the way to the North Falls and then cut across the North Fork Silver Creek to the Canyon Trail. This I took all the way down the creek till I got to the South Falls which was the final stop before the parking lot. Not knowing any better, taking this route ended up being a good starting point and direction around the loop.
The Rim Trail follows a bike path and the road for most of the its journey north. You are up on the ridge with only a few break out views. Unfortunately you can’t see much of the valley below. At one spot you can hear the waterfall below but not actual see it. There are no waterfalls or much besides the forest on this part of the trail. After a couple of miles the first stop is North Falls which for me were the best waterfall in the park. It had the largest and deepest cave cut out of any of the waterfalls. It is not the tallest but still all around the most impressive of the bunch in my opinion.
The North Falls are the first good stop on the trail. Because of how things are so cut out in the cave there is a raised seating area along the back wall. This is where I took the opportunity to have lunch. Even though there were a dozen people in the cave all I could hear was the water splashing down below. The cave took that sound and amplified it, drowning out all the conversations. I really felt close to nature sitting there with all my senses going crazy.
From the North Falls you head into the valley and walk along the North Fork Silver Creek for several miles. It was already a nice day but on the Rim Trail it was easily 10 degrees hotter then along the water. This was a nice change of pace with the cooler temperatures. This is certainly a moderate hike. No serious climbs but it certainly goes up and down quite a lot. Its also a very busy trail so that adds to the effort getting around everyone. Nice thing is this trail is mostly covered. I would say 90-95% of the hike is in the shade which is awesome.
As I headed down the Canyon Trail this is where the meat of the waterfalls are, which makes sense. It really is just one after the other. Some are more impressive then others. For instance there are at least three of the waterfalls with huge cave cutouts behind the falls and trail behind them. First time I have walked behind a waterfall and it was pretty cool seeing it from that perspective. To me the North Falls was still the best one. It was the first one I saw and the best in the park.
I started hiking at 10:30 and if anything I should have gotten there just a little earlier. The timing worked out really well for getting to Eugene and seeing String Cheese Incident. Not so good for having a quite trail or day use area. Along the Canyon Trail the closer I got to the South Falls Day Use area the more people I started running into going the opposite direction. Its not an easy hike and is over 7 miles so not a short one either. I just didn’t expect this many people out on the trail. But then again it was a really nice weekend and this is probably one of the busiest parks in the system. They actually had volunteers at major intersections helping hikers who were lost or didn’t have a map. I found it shocking all these inexperienced and unprepared people hiking this trail.
This is a great day hike trip activity. 1.5 hours from Portland, 3.5-4 hour loop hike and at the end you can picnic in the park. Then another 1.5 hours home before the sunsets with plenty of time to relax with a movie. This first time I did the Trail of Ten Falls to knock if off my list but looking at the map there are plenty of other trails to explorer at Silver Falls State Park.