Chasing Waterfalls
By Dwip June 20, 2015, 7:24 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

As anybody who has followed these photoblogging posts over the last couple of years knows, I’ve made it a mission to hit as many of Oregon’s various natural areas as I can. This is, as you might imagine, a fairly herculean task considering how much wilderness there is in this state. Nevertheless, a slight dent has been made.

Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted to make it to Silver Falls State Park, which is supposed to be one of, if not the, standout of the whole system, featuring no less than ten waterfalls, lush forest, and some pretty serious cliffs.

Devin and I got to talking, I mentioned wanting to go, and we decided to make a day of it. It took four hours to hike about five miles (the red line in the map above), and we made it through seven of the ten falls.

Also, I took pictures. Boy did I take some pictures.

This is the view from the south overlook right as you enter the park. As you can see, we’re a few hundred feet up in the Cascades, which gives a nice scenic vista over some Christmas tree fields, of which there are only about five in the entire Willamette Valley. Maybe six. It’s not very many.

In the continuing tradition of trying to play with the macro settings on my camera, here’s some foxglove.

This is the South Falls Lodge, a WPA-built construct that went up about the time most of the rest of the park did in the 30s. Supposedly there’s a lot here, but we were more interested in the falls.

This is the view from atop the South Falls. We’re in the middle of a little bridge. You can kind of tell how precipitous the dropoff is, but you’ll see in a second.

There were lots of really strange things going on with trees, and this clump is one of them.

This is the trail down to the bottom of South Falls. That small orange dot on the bridge is a person, to give you an idea of how far up this is.

And this is a random artistic shot of a fence and the trail. You’ll see later, but these fences are pretty serious business. Apparently the state frowns on its tourists falling over giant cliffs. Considering the number of wheelchairs and strollers we say, they may have a point.

This is South Falls. All 177 feet of it, which means your party rogue probably didn’t bring enough rope. The three bands of rock it’s got going on is pretty distinctive, and you’ll be seeing it again.

The trail loops behind the falls, which is where we are now. The plant-covered slope thing is pretty neat.

Also, all this water cooling plus temperatures in the lower 70s made for an incredibly pleasant hike.

The trail actually goes through some fairly low caves at a few points, which are usually covered in life. Also the jagged nature of the basalt here is pretty cool.

And here’s a closeup of some of it.

This is almost directly behind the South Falls. Extremely pleasant spot.

These are the massive cliffs to the left side of the falls.

Why did they leave this random rock in the middle of the trail? Who knows, but I like it.

We’re most of the way down from the top now, looking away from the falls.

We’re down at the bottom now, looking back at the falls. The lighting made this a fairly difficult shot to get.

There are lots of little basalt fields in the creek like this. They make for some uneven footing, but they’re cool to look at.

Lots of root tangles. So many.

The author crouching inside a giant stump. I checked for bees first. Always check for bees first.

Much further down the trail now, this was the first sight of Lower South Falls behind an outcropping of rock. We’re about to descend a fairly extensive switchback of staircases, which is a great way to get some exercise.

And a better view of the falls from the bottom of the switchback. This is a mere 93 foot drop.

Again, the trail goes behind the falls. You can barely see around the curve in the fence about ten feet of puddle with a few small rocks to jump onto. You can also see how big the fence is compared to Devin in the background.

Yeah, this place is pretty awesome, innit?

We’re behind the falls, looking out over Silver Creek.

Again, these cliffs are pretty serious.

When not in danger of falling over giant cliffs, most of the trail looked like this. Pleasant little pathways that weren’t too difficult to hike over minus a few rocky patches.

Lots of sections of the creek were littered with rocks of various sizes. Not the best place to sail your model of the Titanic.

On one of the cliffs we found this random patch of moss with water cascading down it, which is what all the little lines are.

This is a random section of rapids along the creek, with a much deeper pool to the bottom left. Also the shadow from the cliff was neat.

Most of the way down the aptly-named Canyon Trail is this highly scenic bridge.

And here’s me standing on top of same bridge looking down.

Unlike the bigger two southern falls, Lower North Falls isn’t much – that fallen tree there is way bigger than its 30 feet – but it’s the first one we’d seen in about a mile and a half, so.

Off to the side of the main path is Double Falls, 178 feet of which probably 165 is that big tall cascade there with a tiny little fall on top. So kind of double by technicality, really.

This is the lower part. It’s kind of interesting how it’s flowing down that outcropping, while there’s what looks like a whole other channel to the side.

Scrunched between two other bands of rock at the falls is this little jagged bit, which I thought looked cool.

This is the teeny little 27 foot Drake Falls, named for the guy who got this place made into a park in the first place. You’d think he’d get slightly better billing, but instead the only way to get a view here is a dinky little viewing platform.

Middle North Falls, however, is a slightly more legit 101 feet. Also looks kind of cool framed by trees.

May possibly be a secret door to a dungeon. Hard to tell.

And this is under Middle North Falls, with Devin for scale. Standing under waterfalls is cool, both in the “dude I’m standing under a waterfall!” sense and because that much water actually makes you cool off. Very pleasant.

This is looking back over the creek from the falls. That round pool is kind of interesting.

And here we’ve gone all the way under and around the falls on a short little side trail. Also, awesome.

I think I’ve said all I can say about green basalt formations, but again the geology here is really interesting.

All the way at the end of the side trail, here’s what the falls are like. Apparently they’re usually much wider, but here we are in summer, so.

And the author standing under a waterfall. Neat.

Big long carpet of rock along the creek. Love this stuff.

This highly scenic bridge took us from the Canyon Trail to the Winter Falls Trail, about halfway along our hiking route. We’re getting near to done with the fun stuff.

Here’s the cliff back the way we came. It is tall. There was much vertical traversing of paths.

This is Winter Falls, which we concluded must presumably be more impressive in the actual winter. 134 feet is nice and all, but after all the things we just saw, a little meh. We did see a bird though.

I have no idea how this tree is hanging in there, but somehow it is.

Why does the trail route around this tree? No idea but it looks cool.

This is the start of the Rim Trail, our last leg, looking down at the Winter Falls Trail we just came from. Pretty serious switchback there. Doesn’t look like it, but it was.

And this is the top of the cliff along the Rim Trail. Close to done.

The author, worn out, hungry, and with a random pain in his hip but quite happy with life, sitting in the car before driving back. For $5 plus gas this was a pretty good trip.

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