We hit the road Sunday morning. Our destination was Silver Falls State Park, Oregon’s largest at 9000 acres, and home to an awful lot of water falling off cliffs.
From the park brochure [careful: huge PDF]:
The falls tumble over thick basalt lava flows resting on softer, older rock.
The softer layers beneath the basalt eroded over time and created natural pathways behind some of the falls. Look up and see if you can spot the many tree “chimneys,” or casts while you walk behind North Falls. These formed when lava engulfed living trees, causing the wood to disintegrate.
Heather had never visited this park, and I hadn’t since I was a kid. We’d already reserved a camping spot at the park later this summer, so we thought it’d be a good idea to see our campsite in person, and to get out of town for the day.
We took I-5 down to Woodburn, then Highway 214 to the park. Our first stop was the North Falls parking lot, where we paid a $3 day use fee and stretched our legs. It was a short, one-way hike to the Upper North Falls, pictured above. We returned to the trailhead and struck out on another short hike, to find one of the big falls.
Parts of Silver Falls State Park were constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s. My guess is that the (clearly non-ADA compliant) staircase below was their handiwork.
The staircase was part of a switchback on the trail to the North Falls. Falling 136 feet, the North Falls are friggin impressive. So impressive that I forgot to take a photo of them . . . from the front. Yup, the trail goes behind the falls.
To give you an idea of how big the cave is under the falls, take a look at the photo below. You’ll see on the right, just below the middle what looks like a tiny bench. That bench, my friends, is a full human size bench!
As I sat on that bench, I took the photo below:
Here are a few more shots of the North Falls, from behind them.
[Heather took some good photos of these falls from the front. She also was armed with a better camera than my iPhone. Her post is here!]
Next stop was the South Falls area. We took a gander at where we would be camping this summer, then proceeded to the most popular (judging by the size of the parking lot; fortunately almost empty this mild winter day) part of the park. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the Historic South Falls Lodge here, and there are nice grassy fields and impressive shelters for picnics. The South Falls are a short walk too.
There’s a trail behind these falls too, but we’re saving that exercise for our camping trip. We did make our way to the top of the falls, however. How’s your vertigo?