How could a state have so much green, so many waterfalls, such a variety of incredible nature…and not be a favorite? Sure, the rain can be an issue sometimes, but as someone once told me: “We need the rain- that’s what keeps Oregon so green!”
Now that our land is a little dryer and a little warmer, it’s time to get outside. If you’re looking for waterfalls this summer, I recommend heading to Silver Falls State Park.
Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon. It boasts 10 waterfalls and a whopping 9,200 acres of land, which includes miles of trail, a restaurant and lodge, and plenty of parking. And yes! They have bathrooms.
The park is hidden away in Sublimity, at the end of rolling country roads. Depending on where you’re coming from, you might lose phone service and internet along the way- so download a map or follow the signs.
The main hike that allows you to see all 10 waterfalls is a 7.2 mile loop, and considered a moderate hike. I did the slightly shorter hike, a 5.1 mile loop that took me around (and under) plenty of incredible waterfalls.
The path snakes around massive, gorgeous waterfalls, takes hikers on bridges over South Fork Silver Creek, and leads you through quiet, green woodland. The path even dips behind some waterfalls, into half-moon canyons coated with moss. Standing so close to the crashing curtain of water and cool spray is an experience like no other.
A piece of advice- if you can, arrive early! I arrived at 9:30am to a relatively empty park. However, by the time I left at 1:30pm, the parking lot was almost full and the trails were getting crowded. The early morning allows for a quieter, peaceful hike- if you can stand the early wake-up call.
There’s a ton of amazing waterfalls in Oregon. But if you’re looking for a great hike and views like the one below? Head to Silver Falls State Park.
What’s your favorite place to hike on Oregon? Favorite waterfall? Comment below or drop me a line right here. And if you’re hankering for another Oregon adventure, check out my blog post on the famous Blue Pool!
A glance at the photo above, and you’ll understand why. It is literally a hidden gem on the McKenzie River Trail, a shimmering pool of brilliant, topaz water. You first come upon it from above- a sudden oasis in the forest around you, a shock of color against the rich green and brown of Oregon.
Another remarkable trait? The nickname. Blue Pool. So very to the point. I love it.
Blue Pool is part of the McKenzie River, but the pool is filled from underground. The river water flows up through ancient lava rock at the bottom of the pool, filling the basin.
The most popular way to get to the pool is a 2 mile hike from a trailhead that does not say it takes you to Blue Pool. The first time I visited the trail, someone tried to be helpful and stapled a piece of paper to a log. It said “BLUE POOL 2 MILES”. It kind of looked like a sign a criminal would use to try and trick someone into getting kidnapped. Still, it lead me the right way.
As you continue on the path, the ancient land shifts from soft dirt underfoot and towering trees, to craggy rock that threatens to trip you if you’re not careful. The air smells clean here, tinged with pine.
While the path changes, your companion of the roaring McKenzie River remains constant, following you all the way to the pool. At times, it’s churning rapids. Others moments, it’s a quiet, clear brook under a crude wood bridge, worn smooth by thousands of shoes.
Your first glimpse of Blue Pool will be from overhead. The path leads to a rocky overlook, abundant with large, flat stones- perfect makeshift seats. Look below and you’ll see the vast swatch of crystalline blue, sometimes peppered with people lounging on the right bank or scurrying along the rocks.
It is possible to reach the banks of the pool. The trek there involves light rock climbing, navigating heavy brush, and shimmying down a steep embankment to the pool.
Once at the bank, you’re treated to an up-close view of the shimmering water. On a hot day, after a two mile hike and crab-walk down a steep hill, it looks tantalizing. You have to jump in.
Blue Pool is cold. In early summer, it is truly, painfully cold. My friend and I entertained the idea of jumping in. We waded into the water- it felt like walking through a tub of melting ice. My feet started to hurt almost immediately. We decided to pass.
It lives up to its name.
Some people do swim in the pool, later in the summer, but be careful if you do. According to Eugene, Cascades and Coast, the pool is a steady 37 degrees.
I settled for dipping my hair into the water, which sounds weird, but in retrospect was a fantastic idea. The extra cold water made my hair very soft. It felt like Mother Nature herself blessed me with fabulous hair.
An Important Note If You Use Google Maps to get to Blue Pool. Google Maps has Blue Pool listed as a destination, but that won’t get you to the most popular trailhead. Instead, when you’re on Highway 126, keep an eye out for a lefthand turn onto an unmarked road with an EWEB power station. On Google Maps, it’s marked as NF-730.
Oregon is somewhat funny in that way. One of the most spectacular natural wonders in the state, and the most popular way to get there remains unmarked and somewhat hidden. But I suppose there’s something exciting about a stunning secret hidden deep within one of Oregon’s forests.