Silver Falls State Park is possibly one of the most frequented sites in the area. Typically I am trying to escape the noise and swarms of people when I venture out, so I’m hesitant when it comes to heavily trafficked sites like this. Some places are worth the trouble, and I assumed the same of Silver Falls given the popularity. It has been nearly a year since I visited the park, and the Trail of Ten Falls, and felt it was time to share.
At this time neither of us had started working full time yet, which left the freedom to fill our days with exploration. There was still so much to see: mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and untamed wilderness as far as the eye can see. Where to even start? When we awoke on this particular morning and realized what a beautiful day it was, we couldn’t resist getting out into nature. We called up a friend and after a brief search of moderate hikes in the area, we made our way south to Silver Falls State Park.
ABOUT THE PARK
There are several different trails that weave through the park, each taking you to an assortment of their ten waterfalls. There is also the aforementioned Trail of Ten Falls which is about 9 miles according to the sign at the park. Most sites put it at under 8 miles so I am not positive of the distance. The complete trail takes you to, you guessed it, ten waterfalls! We figured we could take it easy and check out one or two of the trails.
Read more about the park and trail here:
EXPLORING THE FALLS
Having a fairly late start meant that we made it to the park around 2pm. Though it was absolutely packed with people we could see that they were beginning to leave in droves. Their day was ending while ours was just beginning, which was great for us! We started where most people seem to, at South Falls.
South Falls is seemingly the most popular not solely because of the easy access, but also because the trail runs behind the waterfall. I admit it was refreshing, and perhaps slightly exhilarating to stand behind the rushing water and feel the spray on my face! It had been some time since I had opportunity to be so close to a waterfall.
Once on the other side this trail will connect with a few of the others. From here you can determine which falls you see and how long or steep your hike is. The trails interconnected throughout the park giving a wide array of options. Our intention was to follow the main loop and cut back on another trail when we felt ready to leave. We stopped by the river every so often but could tell that daylight was waning. Though prepared with headlamps and flashlights, we didn’t feel like trekking out in the dark so we kept moving.
Of course I couldn’t resist a few stops to admire some of the beauty nature had on display for us.
Each time we came to the junction of another trail, with the opportunity to shorten our trip, we decided to keep pushing. We weren’t yet tired enough and we wanted to see as many of the falls as possible.
We finally saw all ten, but at this point it was getting too dark to stay any longer. Having hiked Mirror Lake 2 days prior my body was already a bit tired. I also wasn’t yet used to hiking this distance so I was fading fast. This was the hardest part of the hike, as the trail up to this point had descended deep into the park. Exhaustion had already overcome me so I was moving slowly, trying to pull myself up the steep hills. We stopped to eat, hydrate, rest, and even stretch which meant we couldn’t get out before sundown. Night descended on us and we were forced to make our way out in the dark.
We had never hiked after dark before so this was a new and interesting experience. There were a few moments as I was struggling to keep my legs moving that I felt a tinge of concern. The trail is mostly well marked, however near the end it gets slightly confusing in the dark. We came across a pair of hikers who were also trying to get back to the lot and were turned around. Luckily we were able to figure it out, and completed the last leg of the trail together. I felt a wave of relief once we reached the parking lot, finally able to give my legs the rest they desperately needed. My muscles twitched almost violently, protesting their overuse.
It was definitely a lesson for us, given the late start we had. We were stubborn about wanting to see the whole trail, and ignored the shorter routes back. By the time we were feeling burnt out it was too late and we had no choice but to complete the longer trail. I’m still glad I had a chance to see all of the falls, and the park was certainly beautiful. I felt proud that I was able to complete the entire trail, though honestly I didn’t have an option. So my advice is to give yourself time if you wish to complete the entire loop. Arrive early in the day so you can take advantage of everything it has to offer. It may be crowded but the experience is worth it.