I moved to Oregon from the East Coast 8 months ago, and it has been an adventure in incredible spaces and places ever since. This past weekend I got a chance to check out Silver Falls State Park, about 25 miles east of the state capital of Salem. In a 9-mile loop you can hike past 10 different waterfalls—and these are not cute little falls—most of them are near, or over 100 feet tall. And in between there's massive Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock, which form the dramatic towers within this temperate rainforest.
Photographer June Drake, for whom one of the sets of falls was named after, was a tireless promoter of the area that became the park in later years, and got organizers at Salem's Chamber of Commerce to start buying parcels of land one at a time. The park was created in the 1930s as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and over 30 miles of trails were hand-cut through the dense forest, providing jobs for unemployed people following the Great Depression. Buildings were made from local materials that are still used today.
Start at any of the three main trailheads—there is an over-100-foot-tall waterfall at each of them; and follow the very well-kept trail that's big enough in most areas to walk side-by-side with a companion. In the nine miles of the Trail of Ten Falls, you'll see an incredible variety of falls I've never seen in such close proximity to one another anywhere else.
Middle North Falls
Perpective from behind the falls.
Winter Waterfall relies on winter snowmelt, hence its name.
The trails at Silver Falls State Park were planned for views from seemingly every turn of the hike.
Some, like North falls, are too tall to try to fit into one photograph...
Not all the beauty on the Trail of Ten Falls is in the waterfalls; there is incredible flora, like these abundant Maiden Hair Ferns, bobbing in the gentle breezes.
Check out how small the people are walking behind Lower South Falls, which gives you some perspective on the size of the water features at Silver Falls State Park.
All images by Starre Vartan.
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