In my previous post we went on two weekend road trips to the rugged Pacific coast of Oregon in its notorious soggy autumn weather. This time we head inland to sample some of the state’s waterfalls.
Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River is the Pacific Northwest’s largest river system and forms much of the boundary between Oregon and Washington states. Roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Portland, Oregon on the US Interstate 84, the Columbia River Gorge is a canyon carved by the river and is a popular hiking, sightseeing, and fishing area. The gorge also features dozens of waterfalls on the Oregon side, the most popular of which is the double-tiered Multnomah Falls.
Multnomah Falls features two drops, the first one dropping 542 ft into a pool before dropping 69 ft in the second falls. There is a pedestrian bridge over the top of the lower falls, which is accessible via a short trek from the lower falls’ viewdeck.
A few minutes drive to the east of Multnomah Falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway is 176 ft-high Horsetail Falls. It’s hard to miss as Horsetail Falls is right beside the road.
Silver Falls State Park
Roughly 70 miles south of Portland, Silver Falls State Park is home to the “Trail of Ten Falls”. There are 8.7 miles of trails that meander along the banks of Silver Creek, offering superb views of the park’s different waterfalls.
The farthest falls upstream on the north fork of Silver Creek is the 65 ft high Upper North falls. Going to this falls involves a bit of a detour as it is the only waterfall on that side of the trail.
Back to the Upper North Falls trailhead, a short walk in the opposite direction took us to North Falls. We heard the falls first before we actually saw it. The trail runs along the side of North Falls and goes under a crevice behind the falls. It was my first time seeing a waterfall from behind!
A short drive from the North Falls trailhead is Winter Falls. The road is right along the top of this waterfall, so a quick downhill trek is needed to have a view of the falls. The waterfall is so named because it relies on rainfall and snowmelt in the winter up to early summer.
The tallest of the bunch on the Trail of Ten Falls, South Falls is an impressive 177 ft waterfall over a huge table of bedrock. Through time it carved the softer layer of rock below, creating a cutout of rock behind the falls. The pathway was closed due to wet conditions during our visit though.
There is also a pathway leading to the very edge of South Falls where one could peer into the 177 foot drop below.
Multnomah Falls is roughly 30 miles east of Portland on the US Interstate 84. Other falls and trailheads can be found nearby on the Historic Columbia River Hwy. Silver Falls State Park is roughly an hour and a half drive south of Portland on US Interstate 5. At the junction with Oregon Route 22 near the state capital Salem, turn left. Then exit on Hwy 214 (Silver Falls Hwy) and continue east for roughly 12 miles.