If you know my family then you know we absolutely, positively LOVE being outside exploring the beautiful state we live in. If I'm not teaching/playing piano we are outside soaking in all of that pacific northwest beauty. My ideal job would be having my piano studio right next to a waterfall ... if only... Note To Self: Break into Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and make my new studio.
Over the past several years of living in Oregon we've discovered A LOT of amazing sights and breathtaking views. It's mind blowing how beautiful this state is. We love sharing our discoveries with family, friends and followers of our families insta account @pnw.wonder.fam and from time to time (when a rainy day comes and I'm forced to stay indoors) I'll write a helpful blog to share the highlights.
So, let's get to the good stuffs - the waterfalls! Here’s our families TOP 10 list of amazing, mind blowing, gorgeous, can't get 'nuff of 'em waterfalls...
1. Toketee Falls
If there ever was a waterfall that deserved more praise and attention then this would be the one. Often when people are in this corner of Oregon they make a beeline for Crater Lake, but can I tell you an honest truth? Crafter Lake is a bit overrated in my opinion.
Skip the lake - or okay, see the lake if you must - BUT promise me you’ll come here, to Umpqua National Forest, and be amazed by waterfall, after waterfall of pure beauty. Toketee, meaning ”pretty” in Chinnook, is an easy and lovely walk to a mesmerizing basalt column rocked waterfall. The hike itself is relatively easy, short, flat trails (with the exception of some staircases) and very kid friendly. You’ll love winding through the beautiful woods and slowly ascending the gorgeous staircases to this stunning view.
2. Watson Falls
My all time favorite waterfall of Umpqua would hands down be this one. Watson Falls is quite the impact when you first lay eyes on it and is truly unforgettable. It literally took my breath away when I first saw it - I just couldn’t believe how stunning it was. The basalt amphitheater just engulfs you and you feel completely immersed by the power of the falls which plunge down with power. Then the water just tumbles away down these mossy gorgeous boulders and it all is a something to behold. These falls are the second tallest in the state of Oregon!
Not to mention, the hike itself is a real stunner. Every turn you take there’s some new peek at the falls to marvel at, a handsome bridge to appreciate or wooded scene to admire. This hike, in my opinion, outshines anything you’d see at Crater Lake (oops, there I go again bashing Crater Lake). Best part? This hike is only a mile long! So short, way kid friendly and packs a huge punch. The drive to Umpqua is worth it just to see this one hike. I’m serious. If you haven’t seen Watson Falls yet: Go Now.
3. Proxy Falls
Lesser known then it’s nearby local favorite, Sahalie Falls, you’ll find this best kept secret of the Willamette National Forest - Proxy Falls. You'll feel like you walked into some magical fairy tale when you first come upon Proxy. The slow cascade of water down a mossy green rocky face is quite the sight.
Once again, this hike is very kiddo friendly and offers views of not just one, but two waterfalls (the lower and upper proxy falls). My personal favorite is the lower falls (one pictured above), but both falls are amazing and conveniently seen in a loop hike. The hike itself takes you through some fascinating lava fields and wooded forests. Be sure to bring a camera!
4. Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls and the portion of the McKenzie River trail that leads to it is simply perfection. Crystal clear blue river, gorgeous earthy green moss, tall majestic pines and roaring waterfalls at either end of the trail - whats not to like?!
Anytime we pass by Sahalie Falls I have to get out and hike the trail or at least admire the waterfall (which is conveniently right next to the parking lot). So if you've got someone in your family who can't easily hike then this is a great option for them to still see a gorgeous waterfall without the hike to it.
However, if you are able to hike the trail I highly recommend it. This portion of the McKenzie river trail - a much longer trail that goes the length of the McKenzie River - is one of the most stunning of all! Along with Sahalie Falls you can see the beautiful Koosah Falls just a short walk away. This is an ideal and very easy day hike that the whole family will love!
5. Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls is another jaw-dropper when it comes to height and drama. The third tallest waterfall in Oregon, plunging 286 feet, Salt Creek is simply perfection to watch. We love coming anytime of year because its stunning to see at all the different seasons. During the winter long icicles dangle down the basalt columns that give it such a mystical look. If you come in the winter be sure to check out the sled hills at the snowpark that is just a stone throw away.
Summertime and Spring you can easily make it down the entire trail (when its not covered in snow) and get a glimpse at the waterfall closer to the base of the falls. It's a decent descent down and then climb back up but still very doable for the littles. There's also some great informative signs about how glacial waterfalls are formed over time.
6. Sweet Creek Falls
Sweet Creek Falls is one of the most beautiful walks through Oregon you'll ever see.
It's a family favorite that we just keep coming back to again and again. Anytime family or friends comes into town we try to make a point of doing this hike and then making it to the coast afterwards for a bonfire (it's just a short drive to the coast from here!).
This hike is insanely gorgeous - I mean... every turn you take there’s something else stunning to marvel at. I kid you not it’s that good. They should call this hike the Trail of Many Falls because there is just waterfall, after waterfall, after waterfall here. Each one so unique and majestic.
Be sure to start the hike at that first parking lot rather than the middle one. I learned recently there’s even one further back to hike the other side of the river. So I have yet to do that hike. But our personal favorite is to start at that first trailhead - that way headed south on the trial is the best view of the gorgeous trail in my opinion. This hike is very kid friendly - flat, safe and fun! Just a pleasant walk through some lush Oregon woods. Enjoy!!
7. Moon, Pinard and Spirit Falls
Take a magical drive through the North Umpqua National Forest and you'll find these trio of waterfalls that will rock your weekend! These three beauties are all just short drives one another and each just a mile or two long. At the end of each trail you'll be rewarded with some spectacular views! Our favorite of the three is Moon Falls (pictured above) which is a lovely walk through the woods to this gorgeous scene - cascading waters over gorgeous moss covered boulders. Be sure to pack a lunch to enjoy on the picnic table located right at the falls! You'll love eating lunch while enjoying this view. Added bonus: my boys love to play in the rivers that flow from the falls and walk on the fallen logs.
The other two falls are Spirit Falls (above left) and Pinard Falls (above right) and both are stunning too! I recommend coming to see these falls in the late winter or spring when the falls are full and the surrounding area is starting to really green up. That makes for muddier trails but its worth the mud! Both of these are a little decent down but nothing that little energetic kiddos can’t do.
8. Trail of Ten Falls
If you’re looking for a day filled with waterfalls that will really pack a punch then look no further then Silver Falls State Park. Here you’ll find The Trail of the Ten Falls it is stunning and will offer a great family outing. Get ready to spend the day immersed in beauty where you’ll even get to walk BEHIND waterfalls - wha wha?!? Yup! And trust me - it’s amazing.
When we hike here we almost always start at the South Falls trailhead. Here you’ll find the largest parking lot - which you’ll need because during the weekends this placed can be packed - and it will start you off on one of the most majestic of the falls (Pictured above). You’ll enjoy the amazing treat of walking behind a roaring plunge waterfall all in the safety of a rocky stone natural amphitheater. It is quite the experience!
Be sure to take the time and see all the falls - each one is unique and memorable. Pack the snacks, the lunch, the water and grab good boots! With frequent breaks here and there to admire each of the falls I believe any family could happily do the entire loop.
9. Trestle Falls
Not a big fan of crowds? If you want something off the beaten path then check out this gorgeous trail. Although not a short hike for kiddos, Trestle Creek Falls (4.8 mile loop trail) is well worth it and a breathtaking walk through the woods. This also features the unique opportunity to walk behind a waterfall but unlike Silver Falls State Park you’ll most likely have the falls to yourself.
This walkthrough is much more intimate and meaningful, as there are no walkways or fencing, but simply nature. We love coming to these trails as we hardly ever run into anyone else — you really feel completely alone and at peace here.
This is a longer trail, with some portions that are steep ascents, but thankfully a loop trail at least. So keep that in mind when planning your outing. My boys, ages five and six, are able to hike this trail but sometimes with a little grumbling during the steep sections.
10. No Name Falls
Shhhh! Can you keep a secret? Here’s a family secret that we found Spring of last year... No Name Falls!
These falls we discovered while biking through a summer camp up in the Willimaette Forest called White Branch Camp. It was closed for the season and we decided to see if they had any trails around the camp - happy that we did because at the end of the trail was this beauty. What a sight!
I’ve just been calling it “No Name Falls” because I figured it wasn’t on the map. But, lo and behold! I stand corrected! Google Maps has it listed as White Branch Falls and you can locate it here. Be forewarned this is a functioning camp so I wouldn’t recommend coming here during their open months. However, we took this trail in the early spring and ran into no one. This is a hidden gem!