Silver Falls State Park: Double-digit waterfalls, single-digit miles
Our mission to hit all 59 National Parks in one year didn’t leave much room to spare. But we made a few rare departures from our itinerary to visit some spectacular non-National Park spots (Niagara Falls, The Price is Right, Seward Sea Life Center, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, etc.). When we were up around Crater Lake NP in Oregon we heard the name of this place called Silver Falls State Park. Then we heard the name again. And again. This must be one of those spots worth a special detour. We were particularly enamored by tales of a trail with ten different waterfalls. We hadn’t seen anything like that in any of the over 40 National Parks we’d been to at that point.
Silver Falls State Park and the Trail of Ten Waterfalls lived up to the billing. People call it the jewel of the Oregon State Park system, and I’d argue it could go toe to toe with the jewels of the National Parks system. And the best part? It’s nowhere near as crowded as those NPS jewels. Sure, we passed a number of people along the way on a gorgeous sunny day, but at times we had the trail all to ourselves. We would have never known of this gem just an hour east of the state capital of Salem ourselves if we hadn’t heard of it from some native Oregonians and fellow travelers. We’ve learned to always keep our ears open and our itinerary flexible.
Amazingly, the Trail of Ten Waterfalls is only 7.2 miles following a rushing stream. It’s very moderate with 800-feet in elevation gain on a paved and unpaved surface. It’s full of the typical gushing greenery you expect from Oregon forests. Plush moss, draping ferns, sheer bluffs and carving streams everywhere. But the star of the show were the waterfalls. Ten of them to be exact. Three of which you can walk behind. One of which is 177-feet tall. We found our pictures never do the beautiful scenery of the parks justice, but that’s especially the case when it comes to towering waterfalls on a sunny day. But we tried anyway!
We actually wandered around for a while trying to find Waterfall #10 because it was was somewhat hiding behind some brush. A but anti-climactic, haha. But at a cost of $5 per car from our wallets and 7.2 miles from our legs, I’d take that detour to Silver Falls State Park any day.