- Level: Moderate
- Length: 7.5 miles (shorter loop options listed below)
- Elevation: 600* ft. gain
- Type: out and back
- Open: all year
- Permit: $5 parking pass at kiosk
- Dogs not allowed
- Drive time from Portland: 1h15m
- Google map: “Silver Falls State Park”
Silver Falls State Park is one of the most iconic and impressive state parks in Oregon, as well as the largest. There are eleven falls! Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in the canyon area which comprises most of this trail.
The best time to visit the park is in early spring, when the waterfalls are most full, the trails aren’t as icy from winter and the park isn’t yet overrun with visitors, as it generally is in every other season. The trails can get muddy and even washed out in wetter months and the falls get super puny in late summer. On this recent late August visit, Frenchie Falls, Double Falls and the right fan of Twin Falls were completely dried up.
I’ve included the stats for the longer loop which is what I always do, but there are two options to make it shorter if you desire to do so. The trail starts at South Falls, but past the first foot bridge and beyond Lower South Falls, you can fork to the right to climb a steep trail back up to the parking lot making a 2.8-mile loop. For a 5.2-mile loop, continue on from Lower South Falls, pass a slew of waterfalls (Lower North Falls, Double Falls, Middle North Falls, Drake Falls) and turn right at the Winter Falls junction to take a return trail to the South Falls parking area.
*I’m not sure about the elevation gain on this. My book says 600 ft., but it feels a little higher. OregonHikers.org says 1,300 ft., but they always exaggerate. Plan for something in the middle of the two stats.
From the trailhead:
Park in Parking Lot C at the South Falls trailhead. Pass the info center and the Silver Falls Lodge and continue downstream a hundred yards to the paved path that switchbacks downhill and behind towering 177-foot South Falls—but before heading down, fork to the right on that little dirt path to hidden Frenchie Falls. Return to the trail and past South Falls, ignoring all right forks unless you want a shorter trail (detailed above). You’ll pass Lower South Falls, Lower North Falls and take the left-hand 250-yard side trail to Double Falls. Return to the main trail, passing Drake Falls, Middle North Falls and Winter Falls. Continue on past Twin Falls and then up and behind impressive 136-foot North Falls to a staircase leading up to the return trail. Instead of turning right on the rim trail, take the 0.2-mile side trail to Upper North Falls. You don’t want to miss this beautiful, less popular waterfall! Head back to the rim trail and turn left where you’ll skirt the edge of the canyon for 0.9-mile to the Winter Falls trailhead parking area. You’ll continue on the trail and slightly into the woods for another 2.6-miles. There’s a bike path that begins at the Winter Falls trailhead that runs parallel to the trail and can get a little confusing in a couple of spots. You’ll cross it once just before the South Falls parking area.