The Best Waterfalls of Oregon

Explore Lush Landscapes | Oregon, USA

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Welcome to all, but especially those that need an escape from the daily grind. 

 

I'm Amy B, the writer, editor-in-chief and HBIC at Change N Focus. My mission is to inspire each of you to travel & explore the great outdoors, empower you to be the best YOU and truly LIVE the life of your dreams!

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Central Oregon Landscape

 

The state of Oregon is filled with diverse landscapes, but central Oregon has some of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen. I have hiked to many waterfalls in my day, but what is so amazing about the Oregon waterfalls is the vast array of colors that surround them. Glaciers, dense forest and lava fields combine for incredible scenery.

 

The landscape will enlighten your sense of sight, sound, smell and touch by providing you with an eye-popping spectacular of colors with the soothing sounds of falling water and chirping birds combined with the smell of fresh air and the ground beneath your feet as you hike to each fall. Trust that Oregon is a place you will want to get lost in nature.

 

The eight waterfalls that I will describe below are each a unique masterpiece. Some are a short walk just off the road, while others have a bit of a hike, but all are worth the time and effort and you will want to leave yourself time to sit and just listen to your surroundings. We traveled to Oregon in early September and had beautiful weather!

 

The Calming Power of Nature

 

Use your time in nature to really escape your stress and leave anxiety behind. Truly immersing yourself amongst nature can be a powerful experience that brings us back to the importance of finding and harnessing our inner spirit. The only device you should take with you into nature is a camera in order to capture the memories of the stunning waterfalls and if you have to use a phone, then put in on airplane mode so that you won’t be interrupted by those things causing you stress back in reality. 

 

I believe that our souls belong in nature and want to experience the great outdoors. The more you get outside, the more peace you will find and that feeling will empower you to achieve whatever it is you want to accomplish in your life.

 

Proxy Falls

 

Location: Williamette National Forest off Old McKenzie Hwy (Hwy 242)

Hike Distance: 1.6 mile loop

Elevation Change: 147 feet

Estimated hiking time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

 

Proxy Falls is also known as Lower Proxy Falls, because it is the larger of the two falls compared to upper. This waterfall allows you to get right up close but be careful about wet and slippery rocks and tree trunks and branches. The water cascades over a bumpy rock face, which makes for stunning photographs. From the highest spot, the water plummets 226 feet which makes it one of the highest plunge waterfalls in Oregon. We did this hike in the morning and had very little foot traffic and only saw a few people. We had the falls all to ourselves for most of the time. Access to the base of the falls takes you across the Proxy river and will require you to find your own way back up to the trail.

Photos taken at based of Proxy Falls in Oregon

CATEGORIES

 

Sahalie & Koosah Falls

 

Location: Williamette National Forest off McKenzie Hwy (Hwy 126)

Hike Distance: 2.6 mile loop

Elevation Change: 147 feet

Estimated hiking time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy, trail not wheelchair accessible due to stairs, but Sahalie platform is wheelchair accessible

 

These two waterfalls are listed together, because they are located on the same trail.  I suggest parking at the larger Koosah lot, then when you come back from Sahalie, you will be walking downhill.  A viewing platform for Sahalie is less than 100 feet from the parking lot. Sahalie Falls has tons of white water falling 100 feet over a natural lava dam. My sister was obsessed with this fall, because it was in one of her favorite movies, Homeward Bound. She ventured down closer to this waterfall for photos and she got soaked!

 

Along the hike down to Koosah falls, don’t miss stops that walk down to the McKenzie River. The blue color of the water and the array of colors of moss are incredible.  Koosah Falls drops almost 70 feet into a deep pool and the yellows, oranges and greens of foliage and moss, make for a gorgeous contrast with the stunning blue of the water.

Top left is Koosah Falls & top right is Sahalie Falls and below is the beautiful McKenzie River in between the two waterfalls.

 

Salt Creek Falls

 

Location: Cascade Mountains near Oakridge

Hike Distance: 1.0 mile

Elevation Change: 335 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Fee: $5

 

The first platform view of Salt Creek Falls in near the parking lot. You can take a trail down a winding trail for different views and photographs of the falls. Just remember that the farther you walk down, you must go back up! The bottom of this trail was damaged when we visited in 2018. Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second highest single drop waterfall at 286 feet, behind Multnomah Falls near Portland.  Rumor has it that Watson Falls may now top that height. I suggest morning hike to catch the falls in the shade before the harsh sun of the daylight. There is a day use fee of $5 per vehicle.

Photos at Salt Creek Falls in Oregon

Clearwater Falls

 

Location: Umpqua National Forest near Clearwater, Oregon

Hike Distance: 0.2 mile out & back

Elevation Change: 32 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1/2 hour

Difficulty: Easy

 

Clearwater Falls has a parking lot just off the road and is a very short walk to the falls from the lot. The greenery along with the branches with cascading water made for beautiful photos at this fall. And of course, my sister had to walk out onto the log for a photo. We spent the least amount of time at this fall, but it was worth the quick stop to photograph the beautiful landscape.

 

Photo of Clearwater Falls in Central Oregon

Watson Falls

 

Location: Umpqua National Forest

Hike Distance: 0.6-mile loop

Elevation Change: 524 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

 

Out of the eight Oregon waterfalls that we visited; Watson Falls was by far my favorite. The trail winds through what feels like a tropical forest with cool bridges and rocks to climb over and then it opens to a wall of basalt lava cliffs with a very thin waterfall in the center. I wish we had spent more time enjoying the entire scene. Recommend this trail in the morning. We never saw another person which allowed for lots of cool photos.  For the best view, cross the bridge and head up the rocks to get to the base of the falls. The water falls 272 feet and is the 3rd highest water in Oregon.

 

Photos from Watson Falls in Oregon

 

Toketee Falls

 

Location: Umpqua National Forest

Hike Distance: 0.8-mile out & back

Elevation Change: 111 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

 

Toketee Falls is said to be one of the most famous waterfalls in all of Oregon with the two-stepped falls gracefully flowing over the basalt lava formations. The top tier drops 28 feet followed by 85 foot plunge into a large pool of water. When you reach the small parking lot, you will know you are there, because the Toketee Pipline lines the lot, though it had many leaks when we visited in 2018.

Photos from Toketee Falls in Oregon

I never recommend or suggest going off the trail. However, my sister read about some ropes being in place if you climb over the fence at the viewpoint. We broke the rules and made the descent. We were rewarded with amazing views, but again, it was a rough trip down and I wouldn’t recommend it. People have died trying to get down to the falls. Below are some photos from the base.

Photos from Toketee Falls in Oregon

 

Multnomah Falls

 

Location: Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland

Hike Distance: 2.4 miles out & back

Elevation Change: 111 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Fee: $5

 

The Columbia River Gorge is the most visited recreational area in the Pacific Northwest. The parking lot for Multnomah Falls is usually packed, but people do move in and out of there constantly; however, parking gates close when full. Recommend getting there before 11am during peak season. There is a hike to the top of the falls that is 2.4 miles up and back.  There is a viewing area near the restaurant and then you can view the upper portion from the bridge. There are tons of other hiking trails in the area, but we visited after the area had wildfires and much of the area had not reopened in 2018. You will definitely recognize photos of Multnomah Falls!

Photos from Multnomah Falls outside of Portland, Oregon

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