- Level: Easy (Beginner Level: Challenging.)
- Length: 5.7 miles
- Elevation: 740 ft. gain
- Type: loop
- Open: all year
- Permit: n/a
- Drive time from Portland: 1h20m
- Google map: “Shellburg Falls Trailhead” (off of Fern Ridge Rd)
- Features: waterfalls, camping
This trail has been on my list for a long time, but the forces have kept me away for one reason or another until now. Only an hour and twenty minutes from Portland, and somewhat overlooked due to nearby Silver Falls State Park, Shellburg Falls is a quiet, fairy land gem with two huge waterfalls. Technically, three, but the third, Stassel Falls, is on private land.
Lower Shellburg Falls
Me & Brie
After parking in the gravel lot, walk uphill to the right past the locked yellow gate where you’ll begin a 1.3 mile road-walk through beautiful, but private, farmland to the actual trailhead. Stay on the road. Don’t let the length of the road-walk divert your excitement because the trailhead is right beside 40-foot Lower Shellburg Falls and it’s all nature prizes from there on out. A few words of caution, if you look at maps and directions online, you may find two trailheads for this trail. I’ve provided directions for the “lower trailhead” which is the most accessible way. Ignore directions for an “upper trailhead” (which you will actually skirt past in the directions I’ve provided). Also, when you reach the campground (0.8 mile past Shellburg Falls), there is a mess of confusing little trails. I’ve tried my best to make the directions as clear as possible and though it is unlikely a wrong turn would get you very lost, a map of the area would be useful. Feel free to e-mail me for the one I used (I can’t post it for copyright reasons).
From the trailhead:
After the 1.3 mile road-walk you’ll reach a bridge over Shellburg Creek and Lower Shellburg Falls. Take the stairs to the left to begin the trail. Within a quarter mile, you’ll spot Shellburg Falls. There’s a nice viewing platform to the left, but you’ll continue on the path and behind the falls. Just past the falls there will be more stairs and you’ll continue for another 3/4 mile to the upper trailhead by a campground. This is where things get tricky. Go left on the road and up right past the bathroom before turning onto the Vine Maple Trail for 0.5 mile. Ignore all the little side paths and follow the trail along Shellburg Creek, which leads to another old (smaller) road where you’ll turn right onto the August Mountain Trail. You’ll climb 0.4 mile, pass a logging road junction and continue straight 100 feet taking the trail continuation on the right. The trail will descend another 0.5 mile to a gravel road where you will turn downhill to the left 0.2 mile until it turns sharply right (this becomes the road you came in on), past a pile of boulders where you’ll soon pass the Shellburg Falls trailhead. Continue back to your car as you came.