Hike Along 10 Waterfalls on a Premier Pacific Northwest Trail
Nestled in the Cascade foothills, Silver Falls offers over 9,000 acres of lush forests, 25 miles of multi-use trails, and 10 of the Northwest’s most stunning waterfalls.
Few places in the Pacific Northwest can boast such magnificent scenery, peaceful settings, and incredible hiking as what’s found in Silver Falls State Park. And that’s saying a lot for an area known as one of the most spectacular regions in the U.S.
Located just east of Salem, Oregon – and about 70 miles southeast of Portland – Silver Falls lies in the temperate rain forests that line the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir provide a dense canopy over a forest floor covered in mosses, ferns, and an assortment of wildflowers. And, of course, the park is renowned for its spectacular waterfalls that can all be reached by hiking the Trail of Ten Falls.
Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park
The Trail of Ten Falls – which is a designated National Recreation Trail – is made up of the park’s Canyon, Rim, Winter, and Maple Ridge trails. Following the north and south forks of Silver Creek river, the Trail of Ten Falls is an 8.7-mile loop that offers incredible views of the park’s 10 waterfalls – from above, below, and behind. The trail is a hiker’s paradise, set in the abundant, flourishing forests of the Pacific Northwest.
According to the trail guide provided by Oregon State Parks, the falls pour over thick layers of basalt lava flows that sit on a softer, older rock. Over time, the softer rock has eroded in places as the land was uplifted, providing natural outlets for the water to spill over. This process not only provided the spectacular views that exist today but also allowed the areas behind the falls to be scooped out in such a way that hikers can walk behind some of them in order to enjoy a 360-degree view of the falling water.
Multi-Use Trails at Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls offers a lot more than astounding views of the 10 waterfalls. The park also has more than 25 miles of multi-use trails where visitors can hike, ride horses, and go mountain biking. In fact, the trails include a four-mile paved bike path that loops around the park and parallels part of the Trail of Ten Falls.
These multi-use trails wind through all portions of the park, providing visitors with easy access to a variety of plants, such as the Oregon grape and sword fern, as well as remnants of old-growth forests. Visitors might also catch sight of wildlife such as the Pacific blacktail deer. What visitors probably won’t see are the coyotes, mountain lions (cougars), and black bears in the park; they tend to stay in remote areas. Even so, the park advises visitors to pick up an awareness pamphlet when they arrive so they know what to do if confronted by a bear or lion.
Visiting Silver Falls State Park
In addition to hiking, biking, and horseback riding, the park also has a visitors’ center, conference center, swimming area, youth camp, picnic sites, campsites, cabin rentals, and horse camps. And the park permits pets in many areas, including some of the trails. The park is also close to other interesting sights, such as the Oregon Garden.
Indeed, there’s something for everyone at Silver Falls State Park, whether it’s hiking trails, photographing scenery, listening for hummingbirds, or simply lying under a canopy of cedar trees. Ultimately, though, it’s the surrounding beauty and serenity that bring people to the park, and on those counts alone, this is a place well worth the visit.