Tag Archives: Silver Falls State Park

Spring is Coming to Silver Falls

Spring is starting to bloom around Portland and the weather was good over the weekend so I wanted to get out for a hike. I went to Silver Falls State Park and do some drawing and writing. This park has a lot of waterfalls that are close to the parking lot so you don’t have to walk far if you don’t want to. I often spend most of my time hiking and not drawing so this time around I wanted to reverse that order.

The only rain on Saturday was early in the morning and close to the city. This caused a flood of people to head outside and I totally understood why. Due to covid-19 restrictions the park has limited capacity so with the nice weather the park was smashed. Coming in from the north I passed several parking lots to trail heads but none of them had any free spots.

It was so busy in the park that none of the lots had available parking. There where just way more people than spots allowed. I wanted to get outside because I’m tired of the pandemic and so was everyone else that day it seemed. Thankfully I found a parking lot in the south west with some spots open right next to a trail head, 214 Trail.

This parking lot is right at the edge of the park. That day it was windy and cold along the ridge but thankfully no rain. It was also sad to see that right next to the parking lots is giant plot of land just on the other side of the park completely deforested, devoid of life actually. This is the only time you see this jarring image as the trail head is on the other side of the lot and you head into the forest.

214 Trail

This part of the forest has some larger loops, a skills challenge for mountain bikes and if you go far enough you will end up at the convention center which is currently closed. While there is not a waterfall anywhere along this trail it is still very peaceful and relaxing walking through the forest. You can head north and eventually get to a fall or take the long loop and enjoy nature.

As I headed down the 214 Trail I think I ran into…..two groups of maybe 3-4 people in total. It was nice not having a crowded trail. I knew if I parked in the main lot I would have run into a ton of people often along the trail. This day I really wanted to get out and just have some peace and quite so finding this lot and trail really worked out.

You start the hike at the ridge line and work your way down into the valley. I eventually got to the convention center and just kept going. From here the trail starts up the hills on the other side of the valley. I kept looking for a nice spot with a good view but never found what I was looking for. I really wanted to get some writing done and color some van Gogh post cards but I could never find right spot. I totally lucked out when I found the cliff on the Wilson River Trail a while back. That was a great view and awesome spot to recharge at.

Finally just sat under a huge tree and smoke while soaking up nature.

Eventually I just found a bend in the trail and sat underneath a huge tree. The picture I took “upside down” on the tree trunk was my spot. I sat here for a long while just soaking up nature. I would look way up into the trees watching them sway back and forth with the wind. Hearing the wind rustle through the top of the trees. And the smell. Just a hint of pine in the air reminding me I’m outside in nature. I couldn’t get enough of it to be honest. I never did do any writing or drawing but it didn’t matter. It was still a great time.

After just sitting there for a long time I eventually continued my journey down the trail. After another mile or so I realized that the trail I was following would loop back but I had MANY miles to go before I would even start my way back to the lot. Instead of plowing ahead I turned back and went the way I came. It was already after 3pm and I was loosing light fast.

What a great hike in the forest. Not what I was expecting but then sometimes the unexpected is what is the most fun. When things loosen up and the park is more open I might head down later in the year. I would love to go back to one of the waterfalls, sit at its base and do some drawing.

Silver Falls State Park July 2019

The weather was finally starting to turn hot during the late afternoon hours. Its weird but for me when the weather gets like this I just want to get out and do something. The early morning hours are still very cool and if you go up into the mountains, its cooler yet. I can beat the heat naturally for a while and get out side to enjoy nature at the same time. This time around I just didn’t have enough time to research a place so I went back to Silver Falls State Park which I have been to before.

This park checked all the boxes that I wanted in a hike that weekend. Its a good hour and a half drive from the city. It is also pretty deep into the boondocks so a nice quite drive down two lane roads for the most part. Not so many mountains along the drive but you do get some good driving through the forest. It was also a place I was familiar for so plenty of parking and hikes of various lengths. I could do 10 miles and see all the falls with all the crowds of people or go on a shorter hikes and avoid the crowds.

The drive down was pretty easy, its just far. Getting into the park turned into a cluster. It was a beautiful day so the entrance was smashed with people. A ranger was asking everyone what they where doing and directing them to a specific lot depending on what activity you where doing. The F lot was for hiking and a little deeper into the park.

Upper North Falls

From here I headed north to the Upper North Falls which I am pretty certain I skipped last time. When you do the loop trail you skip this place since it is an out and back. I mostly didn’t want to fight all the crowds that would be along the trail so decided on this hike which worked out. It was still a little busy till I got the North Falls and from there it died almost completely.

Once I finally got to the water falls there were only a few people hanging out. I spent probably 45 minutes at the falls and the entire time no more then 10 people where around. Most wondering over the rocks, some along the waters edge, some didn’t move much past the end of the trail.

The waterfall itself is pretty impressive. Not as good as some of the others in the park but it was serene. I sat on some rocks not far from the base of the pool. The canyon trees where tall enough to provide shade so I could enjoy the sight and sound of the waterfall without roasting alive. It also allowed me to rest and cool down. I took the time to do some writing to family. I love being in beautiful spots like this and writing letters.

The Upper North Falls hit the spot that weekend. I got a good drive in, a decent length hike an lots of natural beauty. You throw in some peace and quite and it was a perfect afternoon. Even when its warm outside, in the shade its generally comfortable. Its great weather for getting out into the mountains and hiking.

Trail of Ten Falls July 2018

North Falls

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.

South Falls

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.