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Hiking Oregon's Waterfalls

Whenever I mention that I am from Oregon or traveling back to it, most people respond with what is often the same thing. Of course they say, “Oregon is so beautiful,” and then it’s followed up with something about Portland and hiking The Gorge. Both of these places are awesome, unique and have great hiking, landmarks and waterfalls, but when I travel back to Oregon, you won’t really find me in these places.

I grew up near Eugene, Oregon which is the cascades region of the state. Eugene is just on the other end of the highway from another well known place with beautiful hikes and trails, Bend, Oregon. But, between these two places are the trails that I actually hike when I come back to visit, including a few somewhat hidden gems that remain unknown to folks who mostly come to visit and hike around the Portland and Bend areas.

Here are a few waterfall hikes I did while I was visiting a few weeks ago in Oregon that you may or may not have heard of.

McDowell Creek Falls-

This short trail of three waterfalls is located in Linn County and is great for beginner hikers and kids too. Just 1.6 miles and a viewing deck and staircase at the aptly named, Majestic Falls, this trail features moss covered trees and even a triple tiered waterfall to start out, called Royal Terrace Falls. If you’re going to hike this in the spring, the water is gushing and the creeks are full and moving fast. Prepare for wet and muddy trails as you start and finish all three sets of falls along the way.

Soda Creek Falls-

A little further up the road from McDowell Creek Falls is Soda Creek Falls. It is located within Cascade State Park which is home to multiple trail systems along the Santiam River. Take the trail to what is known as lower Soda Falls, a 150 foot waterfall nestled at the end of the trail. The hike itself is 1.5 miles out and back with a little elevation gain along the way. I hiked here for the first time on this trip and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t discovered this awesome place before. There are also 24 first come first serve campgrounds, so if you’re planning on doing some additional exploring in the area, bring your tent and set up camp at this otherwise not so well known and moderately trafficked park in the spring and summer.

Also, while you’re in Linn County you should also check out Horse Rock Ridge. Horse Rock Ridge is a 3.2 out and back hike in the Cascade Range near Crawfordsville, Oregon. You will first hike through a short forest trail until you reach the end where the trail opens up to a series of meadows and rocky outcrops. From the top, on a clear day you can see views of the Coburg Hills, Cascades, and even the Three Sisters and Mt Jefferson. During the spring season there are multitudes of wildflowers throughout. Stay on trail and keep your dogs on leash when coming here.

Along the McKenzie River and on the way into Bend there are several trails and waterfall hikes. Perhaps most well known is Blue Pool. Blue Pool is one of those places that has most definitely felt the impact of rising to popularity via social media. In fact, over the past two years it has been closed down due to both being polluted with trash and also being affected by wildfires.

Some people might be wondering why I am sharing more of these trails with you and the reason is because I know the Women Who Hike community. I know that hopefully, most all of you going the extra mile to come read a blog about a few trails will visit these trails with the respect that they deserve. It is my hope that if by sharing these other trails that we can reduce the foot traffic at what has become too popular and too over trafficked over the past few years. I encourage you all to study up on what Leave No Trace means and also learn about the Bend Pledge which was created by the people at VisitBend and should really be the way we behave on all of our trails, no matter where we are.

Additional waterfall trails in the Cascade range and going into Bend include both Proxy Falls and Koosah and Sahalie Falls.

Proxy Falls-

Is a 1.5 mile hike along a scenic route on the way from Eugene to Bend. It features two different waterfalls, upper and lower as you hike alongside old lava beds. Be prepared for slippery and wet trails. Also note that this trail (right now, Apr 11th) is closed due to damage from last year’s wildfire in the area.

Koosah and Sahalie Falls-

These waterfalls are by far my favorite falls in all of Oregon and the drive and hike is most definitely worth it, so much so that I visited it twice during my last trip. You start out this trail right off the highway and will hike 2.6 miles total and pass by both falls. As soon as you start the trail from your car, you’ll hear the sound from Sahalie Falls. Sahalie Falls is a 100 foot side by side waterfall that if you time it right, will be lit with a rainbow during your visit. It is truly something to see! Continue along the trail and you’ll end up at the top and then alongside Koosah Falls. The water along this trail is an unreal shade of blue that can truly only be believed when you see it in person.

I want to thank you all for clicking the redirect to our blog. I hope that in addition to learning about some new places you have also picked up some knowledge and tips about how we can visit these places and also keep them in tact for generations of both Oregonians and the tourists who come to visit.

Here are the links again to Leave No Trace & The Bend Pledge.


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