Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of Oregon’s state parks and the highlight within this park is the Trail of Ten Falls. This is the best waterfall hike in Oregon as it has no less than ten different falls to discover throughout a 7.4 mile loop trail (less if you take the cutoff trails).
In this hiking guide, I will be sharing with you my experience on the Trail of Ten Falls, covering the best waterfalls to look out for, where to stay near Silver Falls State Park and a few important recommendations to make the most of your hike. But first of all, allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Christine Blake and I grew up in a large family in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. We never had the money for exotic vacations or travel growing up, but we did visit several American national parks and always went camping on the beach. I have lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for the past 16 years with my husband and three children.
I have always loved seeing new places but I think my wanderlust started after a trip to Greece when I saw the white buildings and blue waters of Santorini. More recently, my love of hiking has been reignited and I often try to add new hiking trails into my travel plans. You can follow my hiking and travel adventures on Instagram @chrismegoodbye.
Five Action-Packed Days in Oregon
We had visited Portland a few years ago to attend a conference for my daughter’s disability. As a family we saw a few of the sights in this area, but I knew I wanted to come back and get a closer look at the beauty that this part of Oregon has to offer by hiking some trails. I get a deeper experience when I can “ground” myself to an area by getting out into nature.
By flying in early, we gave ourselves five days of activities. Silver Falls State Park was everyone’s top choice. We also wanted a day in the Columbia River Gorge to see the iconic Multnomah Falls (among others), a day on the coast to visit Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach, and a day on Mount Hood. We went back to the Columbia River Gorge for our last half day.
Hiking the Epic Trail of Ten Falls
We arrived at Silver Falls State Park as it opened in order to beat the crowds. At 7:30am there were parking spaces available at the parking lot. By the time we left at noon, there were lines of cars waiting to get a spot.
The crown jewel of the park (and maybe of all Oregon) is the Trail of Ten Falls. It’s a 7.4 mile trail that has ten waterfalls to see, several of which you can walk behind. Almost every one of the waterfalls could be a hiking destination on its own, so to have so many on one trail is truly amazing!
We loved Upper North Falls because we had it all to ourselves for a bit just as the sun was coming over the ridge – it was magical. We also loved South Falls as it’s just a really spectacular waterfall. The trail takes you behind the water and there is a charming bridge that you can see down below.
We hiked the trail clockwise starting from Upper North Falls. I think that is the best way to do it because you truly appreciate the beautiful trees and forest setting, before the trail wows you with one waterfall after another.
Seeing that many waterfalls on one trail has to be some kind of record. It’s truly amazing. But the most memorable part of the trail, besides our magical experience of having Upper North Falls to ourselves, was walking behind the waterfalls – watching the flow and feeling the spray up close.
How Challenging is the Trail of Ten Falls?
7.4 miles might sound daunting, but the trail is mostly wide and flat, and there isn’t a ton of elevation. You could take a break for lunch at a picnic area near South Falls. Having regular breaks makes this trail relatively easy.
The first time we were here we had our daughter with us. She doesn’t walk very well but we were able to park near South Falls and walk down to see the waterfall and back up, so most people could at least see that waterfall. North Falls and Upper North Falls are near to a parking lot as well if hiking is an issue – but be aware there are several stairs near North Falls.
Where to Stay near Silver Falls State Park
The closest place to Silver Falls State Park is Silverton. It’s a cute town with an old fashioned main street and lots of charm. There are several fantastic restaurants and accommodations to choose from. I’m not aware of any specific accommodation places there as we stayed in Newberg in order to be more centrally located to all of the activities we had planned.
Tips for Hiking the Trail of Ten Falls
Always follow Leave No Trace principles. If you bring it in, pack it out. That means water bottles and trash, especially the little bits of trash you tear off the top of a package (I see those everywhere and fill my pockets with them). Stay on the durable surfaces (marked trails) and absolutely no graffiti – and that includes carving your name into a tree or bench.
The Trail of Ten Falls is in a state park, so there is an entrance fee. You can pay at a kiosk in the parking lot. There is camping available in the park and you can reserve a spot online. My biggest advice would be to go early. It’s a popular spot but for good reason! If you get there early (it opened at 7am when we went), you will only have to share the trail with a few runners.