Sunday Drive to Silver Falls State Park

It had been 30 days since my last fix. Cold sweats, anxiety, trembling, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches, couldn’t concentrate. I needed my fix and I was willing to do just about anything to get it.

I needed an Oregon fix.

Fortunately, P knew just what to do. She started by grabbing a red thermal bag, loading it with food and snacks and told me to get in the car. After a cold beach experience at Seaside, I knew to follow her suggestions.

We loaded ourselves and food in the car, headed south on the highway out of the city and after a short drive with glimpses of Mt. Hood, we exited the highway at Woodburn. Before going further, we needed to replace a windshield wiper that was shredding itself. So after a short stop at the local NAPA Auto Parts store with a very helpful employee who answered a few unrelated questions P had about changing belts, we were once again on our way.

Passing through the town of Mt. Angel (and feeling a bit like I was in Bavaria, Germany), P bravely deviates from the main road, without a map. A few turns later and we are about to cross the Gallon House Bridge, a covered bridge built in 1916 spanning 84 feet across the Abiqua Creek.

Continuing on state road 214, we enter the heavily wooded area of Silver Falls State Park.

“Wow.” I can feel the trembling start to settle a bit as we pass between the massive pine trees.

Our first stop is a pull out. Getting out of the car, the first thing I notice is the sound of rushing water. Looking across the small valley, we can see North Falls. This 136 foot waterfall is conveniently visible between a break in the trees from the pull out.

“Awesome!” I don’t feel so fatigued anymore.

A short drive up the road we pull in to our second stop. A short walk and we are at the top of Winter Falls. Here the water drops 134 feet. We can’t see waterfall itself, only Winter Creek coming out from under the roadway, under the walk area, and disappear over the falls.

“Nice.” I’m feeling a bit less anxious now.

Back in the car it is a short drive to the main parking area. After a short bio-break, I investigate the bridge over South Fork Silver Creek. I love walking bridges over creeks, so I take a few moments to snap a few photos and video.

Just to the east of the creek is the path that leads roughly north towards South Falls (ummm… right). The trail is relatively flat and nicely maintained with a log fence protecting the path from the river.

As we reach the top of the falls, we can see the mist hanging in the trees across the canyon.

“Cool!” I can feel my stomach starting to settle.

At the top of the falls, we grab a few pictures of the mist, the falls, Macro-Photography by P, and “WTF Dude?” cam (That yellow sign reads “WARNING Do not go beyond railing.”). We can’t quite yet see the full scale of the water fall, that is yet to come…

We continue on the trail and find out we haven’t been following a trail at all, we’ve been following a “path” when we step onto the Trail of Ten Falls that will lead us down about 50 feet and behind the South Falls.

As we work our way down the moderate difficulty trail, we start to get glimpses of the falls up ahead.

“OMG!” I am able to focus again.

We make our way through the wooded part of the trail and soon find ourselves navigating a narrow trail along the hillside.

“Day-Yam!” I can feel the headaches subside.

As we approach the falls, we navigate our way through the low ceiling rock formation and stop to take a few pictures. This rock formation seems to cut back through the rock at least 30 feet from the trail.

As we emerge from the low ceiling rock, we find ourselves behind the waterfall. Although it’s misty and cold, it’s beautiful.

“Absolutely Awesome!” The remainder of my symptoms are fading away.

The South Falls drop 177 feet to the pool below. We are about half way down.

Another Deenpy Photo opportunity!

Although we’d like to hike down the other side and make the loop over the bridge, the trail is closed on west side, so we make our way back the way we came. Along the way we discover this lone leaf, oddly shaped like a head (okay, it’s got a bit of a Pinocchio nose, but a face none the less).

As we head back to the car with my fix satisfied and my appetite returned, the park is closing so we drive out to an overlook on the west side of the park. Here we park and break out the red thermal bag and eat our sandwiches (and my Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups) overlooking the Willamette valley. Off in the distance, we can see lightning as a coastal storm rolls in.

After we eat, it’s a nice drive down the hill and it’s dark by the time we get back to the highway.

I can’t see how I’ll ever get tired of the Oregon scenery – I’ll need a fix often.

by D

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