Waterfalls abound in the Mid-Willamette Valley
You don’t have to travel far to find a great waterfall hike near Salem, Oregon. You’ll find plenty of waterfalls less than an hour outside of the city.
Abiqua Falls is one of Marion County’s hidden gems. The stunning, 92-foot waterfall sits about 11 miles outside of Scotts Mills, Oregon. Although it is located on private property owned by Mt. Angel Abbey, the land is open to the public for recreational use.
The short, unmarked trail leads hikers to the base of the waterfall, which is surrounded by a spectacular basalt amphitheater.
Hikers should proceed with caution, as the trail is very steep and can be slippery.
Butte Creek Falls
In the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Butte Creek Falls is a must-see for fall foliage lovers. The trailhead is located less than four miles away from Abiqua Falls.
The one-mile trail weaves through Douglas-fir and hemlock trees before reaching two stunning waterfalls.
Upper Butte Creek Falls is a 20-foot waterfall that falls into a deep, cold pool. The 80-foot Lower Butte Creek Falls can be viewed at the end of the trail from a rocky promontory.
Situated just outside of the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area is the trailhead to Henline Falls. The less than two-mile trail takes hikers to the gorgeous 125-foot waterfall and a crystal-clear plunge pool.
To the right of the falls is the old Silver King Mine, which is now covered by a bat gate.
Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area is a popular spot among hikers in the summer. Take the 6.25-mile round-trip adventure from the trailhead to the old mining town of Jawbone Flats and Opal Pool. Along the way, you’ll navigate through Douglas-firs, across rustic log footbridges and past remnants of the former town.
About two miles in, you’ll pass Cascada de los Niños. Also known as Sawmill Falls, the 30-foot waterfall marks the end of the native winter steelhead run.
The road to the trail can get snowed in during the winter months, but the trail is open year-round as long as the road is clear.
Shellburg Falls, a 100-foot waterfall, is best viewed during the rainy season, as Shellburg Creek relies solely on rainfall to sustain its flow. Tucked away in the Santiam State Forest, the waterfall is not far from the famous Silver Falls State Park.
The three-mile, round-trip trek will take you past cow pastures and hemlock trees. The trail will pass a smaller, 40-foot waterfall before winding down and behind Shellburg Falls.
Also located nearby, is the lesser-known, 125-foot Stasel Falls, which can be difficult to find.
Walk-in access is available year-round to the Shellburg Falls Recreation Area, but vehicles are restricted from November to May.
Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system. It is Oregon’s largest state park and is home to the Trail of Ten Falls.
More than seven miles long, the trail takes you above, around and behind 10 breathtaking waterfalls. The hike includes 800 feet of elevation gain on paved and unpaved trails.
The park also offers more than 35 miles of backcountry trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.
Know before you go:
- Check the weather and road conditions before heading out.
- Parking at some of the trailheads can get crowded, carpooling is recommended. You may need a U.S. Forest Service parking permit.
- Cell phone and internet service may be limited.
- Leave No Trace techniques are encouraged in wilderness areas.