Post Summary: What To Expect Hiking the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park
When taking an Oregon road trip, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you thought of incredible waterfalls, you’re in the right place!
Here, we’re sharing one of our favorite state parks in Oregon, Silver Falls State Park. Not only does this park have miles of lush Pacific Northwest trail to explore, but it also has one of the coolest hiking trails in Oregon – the Trail of Ten Falls.
In this post, we’re sharing what to expect on the Trail of Ten Falls, including each of the 10 stunning waterfalls, trail features, details, and exactly what to pack for a fun day hiking in Oregon.
Let’s get started!
What To Expect Hiking the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park
History of Silver Falls State Park
The area of Silver Falls State Park was originally home to the indigenous community of the Kalapuyans. They used the land for hunting, spirit quests, and gathering plants like the Oregon white oak and camas lilies.
The park was created in 1933, primarily with the help of June Drake, a photographer, and Samuel Boardman. (Yes, that’s the same guy who has Samuel H Boardman State Park named after him!)
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) came in the 1940s to help with land restoration for farming and logging, by planting trees and establishing infrastructures like roads, trails, and buildings.
The South Falls Lodge is one of the oldest buildings still on site, being used originally as a concessions stand. It is now currently serving as the visitors center for the park. All of the original buildings still standing in the park are included in the National Register of Historic Places.
What Makes The Trail of Ten Falls So Special?
The Trail of Ten Falls is unique for connecting 10 stunning waterfalls into one single loop trail. Not often do you get to see that many Oregon waterfalls in one single day!
It’s the perfect route to take with your family or friends. There are plenty of spots nearby the river to stop and take a lunch break.
Best Time To Visit Silver Falls State Park
The best time to visit Silver Falls State Park and hike the Trail of Ten Falls is in the late spring and early summer months. This is when the waterfalls will be at their fullest, with the biggest display of water cascading from the canyon walls in the South and North Fork Silver Creek below.
However, the spring and summer seasons also come with larger crowds! This is a very popular Oregon state park to visit on a nice, sunny weekend. Come early in the day to secure a parking spot, and start your hike before others hit the trail too.
Explore Nearby: 8 Amazing Things To Do In Mount Hood During The Summer
That’s doesn’t mean you can’t have an incredible time in the “off-season” too. The fall season brings fewer crowds, and the whole canyon explodes in color as the leaves change from green to shades of orange, red, and yellow.
Winter also brings its own appeal! If it gets cold enough, falls can freeze over for a beautiful frozen display, and you’ll likely only share the park with a few others too.
Winter Activities: 12 Laid-Back Things To Do In Eugene, Oregon During Winter Season
What To Bring To Silver Falls State Park
Good Hiking Boots
The varied terrain of the Trail of Ten Falls requires sturdy shoes that can hold up! We like to use ones with ankle support, which is why we recommend the Vasque St Elias hiking boots.
They are waterproof (Gore-tex lined) and made of leather, meaning every time you wear them they form better and better to your feet!
Because you’ll be covering several miles, we recommend taking hiking poles on the Trail of 10 Falls. This way, you can balance out your weight. Hiking poles also help conserve energy, so you don’t tire as fast!
There are plenty of places along the trail to stop, enjoy the views, and take a break! Make sure to wear a sturdy day pack with the 10 hiking essentials. We also recommend taking a camera with you to capture the beauty of the falls!
Winter Specific Items
If you’re hiking the Trail of Ten Falls in winter, come with a set of microspikes for your hiking shoes. This moderate hike consists of 800 feet of elevation, and some sections of the trail can get fairly steep and slippery.
We recommend these ones by Yaktraks because they fold up small in your pack when not in use!
Silver Falls State Park Entrance Fees (For The Trail of Ten Falls)
The entrance to Silver Falls State Park is $5 per vehicle.
Alternatively, if you find yourself taking an Oregon road trip and anticipate visiting several state parks, consider picking up an Oregon State Park Pass. Passes are $30 and are good for iconic stops around the state including Ecola State Park, Smith Rock State Park, and Shore Acres State Park. See here for the full map of where this pass is honored.
Directions To Silver Falls State Park
Here are the distances and mileage to Silver Falls State Park from some of the major towns in the area:
- Portland to Silver Falls State Park: 52 miles, 1 hour 10 minute drive
- Salem to Silver Falls State Park: 23 miles, 36 minute drive
- Eugene to Silver Falls State Park: 77 miles, 1 hour 20 minute drive
Don’t have a ton of time in the park? Plan to park at the South Falls Day Use Area. This is the main center of Silver Falls State Park, where the most popular attractions are easily accessible.
Highlights of the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park
So, what kinds of features can you expect on the Trail of Ten Falls? This 7.4-mile loop is packed with tons of classic Pacific Northwest hiking features, from waterfalls to lush green trails. Keep scrolling, because we’re sharing some highlights below!
Trail of Ten Falls Trip Details:
- Distance: 7.4 mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 1,210 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Dog Friendly? No
If you only had time to visit one Oregon waterfall in Silver Falls State Park, let it be the South Falls! This waterfall tumbles down an overhanging ledge, dropping 177 feet into the pool below.
The South Falls is one of several waterfalls that have an alcove big enough to walk behind the falls. If you’ve never walked behind a waterfall before, it’s a pretty fun experience!
For a short visit, we recommend taking the trail that takes you to South Falls. Walk behind the waterfall and loop back to the parking lot for a quick trip!
Loved hiking the Trail of Ten Falls? Walk behind other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge!
The trail junctions are clear and easy to follow, but we also recommend picking up a free trail map for ease of referencing too. (You can find them at the parking lot trailheads!)
Explore A Similar Falls: Discover Salt Creek Falls Near Eugene, Oregon (same parking lot as Diamond Creek Falls)
Middle North Falls
We weren’t expecting to like Middle North Falls as much as we did, but it surprised us! As we turned the corner and saw it in full view, we thought it looked like a mini South Falls, but more tucked away in the green, lush forest.
Walk along the backside of the waterfall in the alcove and across the falls to a covered landing. Here, this is an excellent direct view of the falls. We spent plenty of time capturing photos here, and enjoying the beautiful sunny Oregon day.
The easiest way to reach Middle North Falls is to park at the Winter Falls Trailhead, just a short drive away from the main South Falls Day Use Area.
Double Falls can be found from the Winter Falls Trailhead, about 1.1 miles (each way) from the small parking lot. Dropping a cumulative height of 178 feet, it’s one of many spectacular displays of Oregon waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park.
Taking the junction near Drake Falls and Lower North Falls, hikers will walk just a short distance on a side trail to reveal the towering falls ahead.
The South Falls Lodge near the parking lot was established in the 1930s and has served visitors and guests of the park for a long time! It operated as accommodations until the 1950s and was then restored in 1978 to serve its current purpose as a visitors center. It’s included in the National Register of Historic Places, and is a wonderful example of the living history of Oregon!
Accommodations Near Silver Falls State Park
Looking to stay nearby Silver Falls State Park? Here are some places to stay near Salem, Oregon, for easy accessibility to the park.
The Independence Hotel: The Independence Hotel is in the heart of the Willamette Valley, close to Salem and nearby tons of local vineyards and growers. This is a great space to enjoy local food, a little bit of luxury, and small-town vibes!
The Society Hotel: Tucked away in Downtown Portland is a lovingly restored historic building, not a boutique hotel. Once a sailor’s lodge, this place merges old-world charm with modern amenities, making it a beautiful place to stay in Oregon.
The Suttle Lodge: Wanting to escape the big city? The Suttle Lodge might be your destination! Tucked away near Sisters, Oregon and on a lake, this place feels like an adult summer camp. Come for outdoor fun, luxury, and lots of relaxation!
Other Things To Do Nearby Silver Falls State Park
Explore More Oregon Waterfalls: Need even more of your Oregon waterfall fix? Nearby, you can find Abiqua Falls, Sahalie and Koosah Falls, Marion Falls and Gatch Falls. You could even take the drive over to the Columbia River Gorge and take the historic highway there!
Weekend in the Willamette Valley: Spend a weekend in the Willamette Valley, famously dubbed “Oregon’s Wine County! Here, you can book several wine tastings on vineyard estates, pick fresh produce, or simply spend a relaxing weekend with your person.
Day Trips From Eugene, Oregon: Staying nearby Eugene? There are tons of day trips to take from the city, including the Trail of Ten Falls! Go east in the Cascades to see Diamond Creek Falls, or more Willamette Forest waterfalls. Alternatively, go west to the coast and explore the Heceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Perpetua, or Devil’s Punchbowl!