Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system and it’s easy to see why. Located about 65 miles south of Portland and 20 miles east of Salem, the park, including the campground, is a forested, mossy, waterfall wonderland that is meticulously maintained. It’s the largest state park in Oregon and has more than 24 miles of walking/hiking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, and a 4-mile bike path. When we stayed in early November, we were able to still enjoy the fall colors, but it was very damp and rained pretty regularly. Regardless, this park definitely finds itself towards the top of our favorite state parks list.
Name: Silver Falls State Park
Address: 20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR 97385
Dates Stayed: November 1, 2021 – November 5, 2021
Speed Test: AT&T – 122 Mbps down/10.3 Mbps up; Verizon – 77 Mbps down/9.95 Mbps up
- RV Sites with Water & Electric
- Tent Sites
- Horse Camp Sites
- Group Sites
- Dump Station
- Restrooms with Flush Toilets
- Individual Shower Rooms
- Firewood for Purchase
- Picnic Table
- Fire Pit
Our campsite was an extremely long (83 feet) back-in site with an electric and water hookup. The sites are paved, which is great with all the rain the area receives. We stayed fairly late into the season when the campground wasn’t very busy, so it was peaceful and quiet. A handful of deer seem to call the campground home as we saw a few wandering about every day. I popped into the restrooms to check them out and they were super clean, which is impressive considering all of the rain and pine needles that must get tracked in but there was no trace of. The showers are individual shower rooms and were equally as clean. We used a vault toilet at the North Falls trailhead and even that was super clean – like, the cleanest vault toilet I’ve ever seen.
The main draw to Silver Falls is the abundance of waterfalls, ten of which you can enjoy if you traverse the Trail of Ten Falls. I’ve seen the length of this trail posted as both 7.2 miles and 8.7 miles, and seeing as we only did bits and pieces of the trail, I’m not sure which is more accurate. There are also other multiple shorter loops and out and back trails that lead to some of the falls, so it is definitely not necessary to do the entire Trail of Ten Falls in order to enjoy this park.
This park/trail map is from the Oregon State Parks website:
On our first full day in the park, the rain held off for a while and we were able to visit the South Falls area of the park. This part of the park is home to a café, a store, restrooms with flush toilets, a swimming area, an off-leash dog area, and a starting point for three of the park’s trails: the Rim Trail, the Canyon Trail, and the Maple Ridge Trail. This is also where you will find the park’s most visited waterfall, South Falls. South Falls is the second largest falls in the park at 177’ tall, just one foot shy of the tallest falls, Double Falls. While there is a very short walk to a viewing platform, South Falls is best enjoyed by taking the 1-mile loop that will take you on a path down behind the falls, across a bridge at the base of the falls, and loops back up to where you started.
On our second day of exploring, we drove to the North Falls trailhead. From here we did a short out and back to North Falls, where again you can follow the trail to behind the falls. You can continue along the trail, which is the Canyon Trail and part of the Trail of Ten Falls loop, but we opted to walk back towards the parking area and follow another short out and back to Upper North Falls. My watch measured these two little out-and-backs as 1.37 miles total, but the park lists it as 1.8. I guess it depends how far past North Falls one goes in order to determine the length.
As the names suggest, North Falls is on the north-ish (more east) end of the park and South Falls is on the south-ish (more west) end of the park. As we drove from North Falls back towards the campground on the south end of the park, we stopped at the Winter Falls trailhead. We hiked the short distance to Winter Falls and then, again, returned to the trailhead. This little roundtrip was less than a half mile, so again, another very doable length to view a beautiful waterfall. If you continue past Winter Falls, you’re able to access the most remote falls in the park: Middle North Falls, Drake Falls, Lower North Falls, and Double Falls. From what I can tell from the map, this hike would be around two miles round trip.
We ended up extending our stay one night in order to avoid a travel day consisting of high winds and lots of rain, which is a pretty typical weather situation for this time of the year. Most of the day was spent inside the Airstream, but the rain did let up for a little bit, so we drove back over to the South Falls area so we could walk around and get a little exercise. There were only three other cars in the parking lot, so if you want the trails and waterfalls all to yourself, then visit while it’s raining.
Even though we stayed at Silver Falls State Park during a fairly rainy part of the year and things were quite damp, we really enjoyed our stay. A visit during the latter part of the year allowed us to enjoy the fall colors, as well as a campground and trails without very many people. I think some of the falls dry up during the warmer months, so it was nice to be able to experience them after the area received a decent amount of rain and the falls were flowing at a pretty good clip. I found myself often commenting out loud how beautiful everything was — the fog, the moss, the trees — it all felt somewhat magical!