Post summary: 8 gorgeous walk behind waterfalls in Oregon
Enchanting, peaceful, and powerful – Oregon waterfalls are a force of nature that are unmatched in beauty and wonder.
What makes waterfalls even more alluring is that there are waterfalls that you can walk behind!
Keep reading to learn more about these unique PNW travel destinations and waterfalls you can walk behind in Oregon.
10 Unique Walk Behind Waterfalls In Oregon
What is a Walk Behind Waterfall?
A walk behind waterfall is a waterfall where you can walk on the backside of the curtain of water and experience the falls from a new angle!
Walk behind waterfalls are created by water flowing over thick rock, such as basalt, that rests on older, softer rock.
The water of walk behind waterfalls erodes the soft rock and creates a natural pathway behind the falls for visitors and adventurers like you!
So, what waterfalls can you walk behind in Oregon?
Continue reading to learn more about these 8 stunning walk behind waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park, the Columbia River Gorge, and greater Oregon!
Trail of Ten Falls (Silver Falls State Park)
Which waterfalls can you walk behind at Silver Falls State Park? Answer: 4!
Silver Falls State Park is located near Salem, Oregon and is treasured for its scenery and standout waterfalls.
There are actually four unique waterfalls you can pass behind in this park alone (South Falls, Lower South Falls, Middle North Falls, and North Falls), and they are all connected in one trail–the Trail of Ten Falls!
The Trail of Ten Falls consists of the Canyon Trail and Rim Trail.
This 7.4-mile, moderate loop includes 1,210 feet of elevation gain on unpaved walkways.
The Trail of Ten Falls is best visited during spring and early summer, when the water volume is at its highest!
1. South Falls (Trail of Ten Falls)
It South Falls is the most famous waterfall along the Trail of Ten Falls for its 177-foot tall drop!
South Falls is located on the Canyon Trail portion of the Trail of Ten Falls.
It is the first waterfall you will encounter on the trail from the South Falls Day-Use Area and South Falls Trailhead.
South Falls is found along a short loop trail that will bring you back to the main parking lot and gift shop if you don’t want to continue for the full hike.
Just a quarter-mile from the trailhead, the trail at South Falls passes behind the waterfall into a spacious alcove!
This walk behind waterfall cascades into a pool below the falls, which can be seen from the main trail.
South Falls is the tallest of the walk behind waterfalls along the Trail of Ten Falls.
2. Lower South Falls (Trail of Ten Falls)
At 93 feet tall, Lower South Falls flows over a rocky cliff and plunges into the pool below.
Lower South Falls lies one mile past South Falls along the Canyon Trail portion of the Trail of Ten Falls.
The hike leading up to Lower South Falls contains several switchbacks with metal railing.
Then, you can pass behind the waterfall and continue your hike to Middle North Falls.
Lower South Falls can be seen from multiple viewpoints, which makes it unique.
Hikers can go behind the falls and continue on the trail to higher elevation where the waterfall can be seen from above!
3. Middle North Falls (Trail of Ten Falls)
This waterfall is located on the Canyon Trail, but you can also access it from the Winter Falls Trailhead.
Middle North Falls is 106 feet tall and is one of the wider waterfalls when the water levels are high at 100 feet across!
The hike leading up to Middle North Falls on Canyon Trailhead is moderate and approximately three miles from the South Falls Trailhead.
From the Winter Falls Trailhead, the hike is about a half-mile before reaching Middle North Falls.
The short side trail that will lead you behind this waterfall is one you must take!
Middle North Falls is a majestic walk behind waterfall that is unique for its large grotto behind the sheet of water that falls into a large basin.
4. North Falls (Trail of Ten Falls)
North Falls is located less than a quarter-mile from the North Falls Trailhead and is along the Canyon Trail of the greater Trail of Ten Falls.
North Falls is the ninth waterfall along the Trail of Ten Falls from the South Falls Trailhead.
North Falls is 136 feet tall and is particularly powerful during high flow seasons.
From the North Falls Trailhead, this walk-behind waterfall is very accessible and includes both stairs and a few switchbacks.
Starting from the South Falls Trailhead, the North Falls waterfall is 4.1 miles into the main loop of the Trail of Ten Falls.
Behind the roaring North Falls is a long cavern that contains eroding, brittle rock and harder, volcanic basalt that creates the ceiling of the cavern.
The water that has eroded the soft rock layer beneath the cavern’s ceiling has created the largest overhang of all of the waterfalls on the Trail of Ten Falls loop!
If you look closely, you might even see charred remains of trees buried by ancient lava flow on the rock overhead!
5. Ponytail Falls
Ponytail Falls (also known as Upper Horsetail Falls) is located on the Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls Trail, which can be accessed from the Horsetail Falls Trailhead.
The trail is found along the waterfall corridor of the Columbia River Gorge and is less than an hour away from Portland!
Ponytail Falls is an 88-foot drop that rightfully characterizes its name!
The hike leading up to Ponytail Falls is an easy, out-and-back trek that can be accessed year-round.
The round-trip hike is 0.8 miles, has an elevation gain of 320 feet, and takes a little over a half an hour to complete and enjoy Ponytail Falls!
Not only can you pass behind the waterfall under a cavernous overhang of basalt, but you can also see two more waterfalls on this trail!
The first waterfall on the Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls trail is Horsetail Falls, which can be seen from the nearby Historic Columbia River Highway.
6. Grotto Falls
Located in southwest Oregon, Grotto Falls is found in the Umpqua National Forest.
Grotto Falls is at the end of the Grotto Falls Trail, which passes through the lush Oregon greenery, full of Oregon grape and old-growth forest.
At 100 feet tall and with a breadth of 25 feet, Grotto Falls splits into two falls over an undercut cliff and into a stream below.
Grotto Falls is most powerful when the water flow is high after snowmelt in the spring.
Grotto Falls Trail is a half-mile out-and-back trail.
The Grotto Falls Trail arrives at Grotto Falls where the trail passes behind the flowing curtain of falling water and into a deep cavern.
When behind Grotto Falls, you’ll find yourself looking upon clay handprints from hundreds of visitors!
For years, hikers have wet their hands in the waterfall and used a palette of wet clay to add their fingerprints to the cavern behind Grotto Falls.
You could add your own on your next visit!
7. Tunnel Falls
Just over two hours from Portland, Tunnel Falls is located near the Columbia River Gorge on the Eagle Creek Trail.
Tunnel Falls is 172 feet tall and is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge!
For those who want a long day hike or a little more exercise, this trek is just for you.
Round trip, the hike to and from Tunnel Falls is 12 miles long, with an elevation gain of 1,640 feet.
The gorgeous hike through the fern-covered forest to the walk-behind waterfall, Tunnel Falls, is not one to miss.
This Columbia River Gorge waterfall is called Tunnel Falls because the Eagle Creek Trail follows along a cliffside and into the tunnel behind the falls.
This makes Tunnel Falls one of the most magical walk behind waterfalls!
Eagle Creek Trail also has other waterfalls along the way to Tunnel Falls, including the stunning Twister Falls, which is just 0.5 miles past Tunnel Falls.
8. Upper Trestle Creek Falls
Upper Trestle Creek Falls is found at the end of Upper Trestle Creek Trail in Umpqua National Forest.
Upper Trestle Creek Trail is a loop trail that is often done in conjunction with Brice Creek Trail.
Surrounded by moss, ferns, and old-growth Douglas firs, Upper Trestle Creek Falls has a 90-foot drop and cascades over a basalt cliff into the pool below.
The hike to Upper Trestle Creek Falls is a moderate hike with steep sections.
Upper Trestle Creek Falls is one mile into the Upper Trestle Creek Trail hike, and the entire loop is 4.8 miles long.
Cottage Grove, Oregon (the closest town to Upper Trestle Creek Falls) is a historic town that was once prosperous for its gold-mining.
Cottage Grove has become a hub for outdoor adventures, with hiking, backpacking, trails to waterfalls like Upper Trestle Creek Falls, ghost towns, and biking all within a short distance from the town.
Did we miss any more walk behind waterfalls in Oregon? Let us know in the comments!