This one has been on my list for a couple years, but by now you know I tend to avoid crowds and state parks. It finally was in my direct path but it was a Saturday. With a 7am opening, I decided to take a chance and see if I could beat the rush, but I was mentally prepared for the population explosion.
Upper South Falls
One of the unusual features of this park is the number of fall you get to walk behind and view from different perspectives.
Lower South Falls
It was another opportunity to walk behind the falls.
Lower North Falls
Middle North Falls
I skipped Upper North Falls this trip. It’s near a parking area and with it now being nearly 11am the crowds had arrived.
I can see why this is a highly recommended trail and park. By arriving early I walked in solitude for the first couple hours, only encounter a few others. I was able to capture photos of falls minus strangers. I enjoyed bird song, babbling creeks and roaring waterfalls. As I neared parking areas and mid morning the crowds picked up. There were about 10 cars in the South Falls parking area when I arrived, and hundreds when I departed.
It just happened to be Historic Silver Falls Days while I was visiting which may have added to the crowds. For the $5 parking fee, there are many activities to keep folks separated and active. The interpretative signage includes lots of interesting factoids.
- July 13, 2019
Notice actual elevation gain/loss was 1,500 feet vs the 500 feet noted on the literature and signage. This excludes Upper North Falls which would have added about a mile.Tip(s):
- If your knees dislike going down stairs, you can plan a route to go up instead. From the South Falls Day Use Area, take the Maple Ridge Trail to Lower South Falls connecting to the Canyon Trail with Lower and Upper South Falls. This is a 2.6 mile counterclockwise route.
- To avoid going down stairs: From the North Falls Parking lot take the Rim Trail to the Winter Trail to Canyon Trail to Lower North Falls. Along the way you’ll see Winter Falls (only in the winter), Twin Falls and Lower North Falls. I recommend taking a short out and back to see Lower North Falls, Drake Falls, Double Falls and Middle North Falls. Then from the parking lot hike out to Upper North Falls.
- In general the signage was good but it was helpful to grab one of the free maps. The first area that was confusing was at the South Falls Day-Use Area. Where does the trail start? Follow the paved stone path. The next area was at the junction to North Falls Parking and connecting to the Rim Trail. There is separate signage with the Rim sign in an odd location. The last areas was just after the Winter Falls parking where the bike path and Rim Trail converge. Stay on the dirt path.
- There are kiosks in each parking area to pay the $5 parking fee. It accepts credit cards or cash. Best $5 I’ve spent in a long time!