March 18, 2022
Silver Falls State Park is right in our backyard. It was the first place we explored when we moved here over a decade ago, and it's our family's most frequented place throughout the summer.
There are quite a few short and medium hikes within the 7.8 mile loop hike, The Trail of Ten Falls. Since my hiking brigade is usually comprised of me, my son, and my two daughters (7 & 5), we are only able to hit the short in and out trails to the big waterfalls. We did complete a 3.5 mile loop once connecting from the ever popular South Falls to Lower South Falls then back up the Maple Ridge Trail, but I did have to alternately carry the girls for more than half of that one (maybe we'll try again this year). The other short hike is over to North Falls from the North parking area; It is less traveled than South Falls with a lot of room to hang out behind the waterfall. We sometimes pack a lunch and sketch pads just to hang out in the early spring before it gets too busy.
A few weeks ago, though, Oliver and I had a whole day to finally hit the entire 10 waterfall loop. The air was brisk and there was ice, but we saw a whole different side to Silver Falls than we ever have before.
We started in the South Falls area, and intended to hit the South Falls first, then go up the Canyon Trail to Lower South Falls, but somehow we missed it (despite all sorts of well-placed signage) and we started out the Maple Ridge Trail.
The Maple Ridge Trail runs parallel to the Canyon Trail, then meets up with it. From there, you can either circle back toward South Falls, or head out toward Lower North Falls to hit the longer loop of the Trail of Ten. We've seen South Falls so many times, that we were anxious to get to the parts we'd never yet visited. So on we went.
We hit our first bit of ice along the switch backs of the Maple Ridge Trail.
There was only a small strip along the edge where there was not thick ice. We were grateful it was along the edge that did not lead to a steep plummet.
One down, then we had one more dicey one ahead.
And we made it. We only slipped once or twice.
The trail was icy in spots, but totally walkable.
Going under those icicles was exciting!
The views were just amazing. Totally different than the spring, summer and early fall views we're used to in this area.
The stairs down this bridge were pretty frosty, but lead to amazing sights.
Finally, about 2 miles in, we hit our first waterfall, Lower North Falls
The icy contrast with that bright blue water had me captivated every time.
Then, a little in-and-out offshoot leads to Double Falls.
This leg of the Trail of 10 is seriously one waterfall after another.
Next up, Drake Falls.
Then Middle North Falls
We were finally getting some sunshine, and temps were starting to rise. We took a little snack break here.
Oliver was entranced by the huge icicles along the trail around Middle North Falls.
Twin Falls was about a half a mile away, but I was not able to get a picture. The trail was pretty slick where there would have been a good photo op, so I decided to just enjoy the moment.
We continued along the Canyon Trail for another mile or so and finally, NORTH FALLS! It *might* be my favorite. Ok, it's totally my favorite.
So majestic. These photos don't do it justice. The sparkle of crispness of the icy waterfall is just amazing.
And, break time. Oliver and I found a nice quiet spot to just sit and take it all on. The icy mist coming off of this waterfall is so rejuvenating. We were expecting it to be cold, wet and icy behind the waterfall, but it was surprisingly dry and comfortable. We stayed here for quite a while listening to the water.
Now, going up the other side of the North Falls entails a steep staircase. Similar to the one going down to South Falls, but remember, we hadn't seen the conditions of that one earlier. With the sun out and the temperature rising, we weren't quite prepared for the stairs.
They were completely encased in ice.
By this time, there were more people around trying to go up and down these stairs. There was really only one tiny sliver safe to put your feet. It took a while and lots of cooperation for everyone involved, but we made it up!
I did not get pictures. It was intense.
There is an offshoot over to Upper North Falls, but we opted to skip it and head straight to Winter Falls.
The next leg of the trip was clear of ice; it was calm and peaceful.
Except every now and again you could hear huge crashes of ice falling. Temperatures were rising and the ice was melting.
I was excited to get to Winter Falls; we'd only ever seen it in the Summer time when it is definitely not in its glory.
It delivered! Winter Falls was a magical, icy wonderland. Every few minutes we could see a huge icicle melt a little and crash into the water below.
After that, we hit the Rim Trail back out to the South Falls parking area.
We didn't hit all ten waterfalls on this trip, but we visited all the ones we've missed before and still wound up doing about 7 miles.
I'm so glad Oliver and I had the opportunity to hit this hike together during this time of year. It was like experiencing a familiar place for the first time.
Have you ever been to Silver Falls? What's your favorite waterfall?