177-foot South Falls
During the second week of September a few years ago, I journeyed to Silver Falls State Park, about 44 crow-flying miles southeast of home. It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine. The Park is truly a gem, and a geological wonder too. In any other state in the continental U.S., the 14 square-miles would surely have been designated a National Park long ago. But, it has to compete with the world-class waterfalls residing in the Columbia River Gorge.
An eight-mile loop trail with 900 feet of elevation gain begins at an interesting lodge, constructed originally by the CCC in the 1930’s. The Trail passes 10 waterfalls, five of them dropping over 100 feet. After walking a short distance I reached the top of South Falls at 177 feet. The Trail then descended down the cliffs and passed behind the Falls. Over the ages Silver Creek and its tributaries have eroded through the basalt layers, forming natural pathways behind several of the waterfalls and creating spectacular canyons of classic rainforest. In the next five miles I followed the Creek and passed eight more waterfalls.
65-foot Upper North Falls
After the Trail went through caverns behind North Falls, it made a steep ascent to a parking area. From there I walked under the road and in one-fourth mile came to the base of Upper North Falls, maybe the prettiest of the waterfalls. Soon I returned to the to the Rim Trail and began the final 2 1/2 miles to the Trailhead. What a great place to visit.