Travelnitch Hikes: Oregon
Salt Creek Falls
Last spring, my husband and I hit a pretty big milestone—10 years of wedded bliss (most days). To celebrate we took a trip to the northwest, something we had both been dreaming about for quite some time. Thanks to my Expedia Rewards points and a whole lot of leg work, we were able to hike trails as far north as Portland all the way down to San Francisco.
Oregon is widely known for an unrivaled outdoor culture, so we were excited for this opportunity to go hiking in this great state. While we managed to cover a lot of ground in ten days, the most memorable for me was Salt Creek Falls.
Snow Never Stopped Me
It was the end of April and snow was still visible in the higher elevations. Salt Creek was not a planned stop but, as we made our way south on the Willamette Highway (HWY 58) towards Crater Lake, the signs caught my eye. A quick search on AllTrails and we soon found ourselves parked in front of a closed metal gate. Beyond the gate was a wide trail covered in about a foot of hard-packed snow—no end in sight.
Other passersby came and went, taking one look at the gate and opting to move on. I wondered if they knew something I didn’t. But Pat and I were itching for a chance to stretch our legs, so we put our faith in AllTrails, trusting it was in fact a half-mile loop.
We changed quickly into hiking boots, hoping we wouldn’t regret the lack of snowshoes, and made our way around the closed gate. The sun was shining, making it more like a brisk walk than a hike and—sure enough— not 15 minutes later we were standing in a large, empty parking lot next to a closed visitor’s center.
Following a narrow trail leading into the woods we could hear the falls for the last 100 yards. As we approached the upper viewpoints, the falls came into view, descending 286 feet to the jagged rocks below. The loud roar of the rushing water was all I could hear. Looking around I searched high and low for signs of human life but, there we were, the luckiest people in the world—all alone.
About Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Oregon. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe the view, and with such easy access there’s really no reason to skip this one. In the winter, bring along your snowshoes. During warmer months, you can drive right up to the visitor’s center and park.
The short wooded trail to the falls are handicap accessible, making them stroller-friendly as well. While you do have the option to hike along a scenic path, several hundred feet down to a plunge pool at the base of the falls, proceed with caution. Switchbacks are steep and climbing back up could present a challenge for kids. If you have older kids and you’re looking for more of a day hike consider Diamond Creek Falls, a 6.9 mile loop accessible from Salt Creek Falls.
If you find yourself winding through the mountains of Oregon, add this stop to your itinerary. Your family will thank you. One day I hope to bring my own kids there, because this magical destination is certainly worth a return visit!