The BEST waterfall hike in Oregon! Hiking the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park

In this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know to hike the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park.

One of the top things we think of when we think of Oregon are waterfalls! There are at least 238 waterfalls in the state and along the Trail of Ten Falls you get to see (at least) TEN of them, making it, in our opinion, the BEST waterfall hike in Oregon!

Watch our experience hiking the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park on YouTube!

And in this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know before hiking the Trail of Ten Falls, including where it is, which direction to hike, important information, plus what to expect along the trail!

Looking for more things to do in Oregon? 

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

About the Trail of Ten Falls

South Falls | Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

The Trail of Ten Falls is located at Silver Falls State Park, which is said to be the Crown Jewel of Oregon’s State Parks, and as the name implies, is a trail that includes 10+ waterfalls (we counted 11!), as you wander through canyons and the forest, oftentimes along a gorgeous river.

While the famous Columbia River Gorge gets a lot of the waterfall love in Oregon (and for good reason, it’s GORGEous!), a huge advantage to the Trail of Ten Falls is that you only have to park once and then BAM, tons of waterfalls!

These waterfalls are all different heights, shapes, and widths from each other, making each waterfall a unique experience. And you are able to walk BEHIND four of the waterfalls, making the hike even more memorable (and a bit wet!).

Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!

These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors. 

Trail of Ten Falls Stats

Miles (round trip): 7.4
Elevation (feet): 1,151
Reviews & Current Conditions

The Trail of Ten Falls is about 7.4 miles round trip, although we tracked closer to 11, which is likely due to the back and forth for filming and getting photos, plus going on some side trails to see some waterfalls. But despite the 11 miles we tracked, the hike only took us around 4 hours!

The trail combines the Canyon Trail and Rim Trail and one thing that is really great about this hike is that it is a loop hike, which means that you will see new scenery the entire time! And despite being 1,151 feet of elevation gain, it doesn’t feel overly hard. Minus some areas with steps, it is a pretty gradual incline!

If the mileage is too long for you, you are short on time, or you just don’t want to see all of the waterfalls, there are two cut off trails along this loop, the Maple Ridge Trail and the Winter Trail, that will take you back to the parking area if you’re unable to do the whole thing.

Where is the Trail of Ten Falls?

Silver Falls State Park is located in northwest Oregon, just a short drive from various cities in the state, including Portland, making it a convenient park to visit when road tripping through Oregon.

Getting to Silver Falls State Park

Since the Trail of Ten Falls will likely be a part of a larger Oregon trip, vs. the sole reason for a trip to Oregon, here’s how long you can expect to drive from nearby destinations in the state:

  • Salem: 35 minutes (24 miles)
  • Portland: 1 hour, 15 minutes (54 miles)
  • Hood River: 2 hours (108 miles)
  • Bend: 2.5 hours (123 miles)
Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Parking + trailhead

There are multiple trailheads you can start at to hike the Trail of Ten Falls, including the South Falls Lodge Trailhead and the North Falls Trailhead. We personally like to start at the South Falls Lodge Trailhead, as the parking lot is MUCH larger (it can fit hundreds of cars), there are more facilities, and we love starting the hike with South Falls.

Which direction should you hike the Trail of Ten Falls?

Since this hike is a loop, you can choose to go clockwise or counter-clockwise, but we’d suggest starting the hike at the South Falls Lodge Trailhead and going clockwise, which will take you to South Falls first and end with Upper North Falls or Winter Falls, if you choose to add that one on.

The advantage of going clockwise from South Falls is that you get to knock out one of the most popular waterfalls, South Falls, first. And if you arrive very early, there is a high chance you’ll have it all to yourself!

The downside of going this way is that the last part of the hike along the Rim Trail isn’t super exciting, as it’s just through the trees and near the road, but we’d personally rather experience the more boring part of the hike at the end and enjoy the more fun part with less people!

When to hike the Trail of Ten Falls

Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

The Trail of Ten Falls is located in a milder area of Oregon, making it a great year round hike, but depending on the season, day of the week, and time of day, your experience may vary!

Visiting during different seasons

In the wintertime, the area can get very cold, which can cause the trail to get a bit icy, so we suggest packing microspikes to ensure that you stay safe on the trail. The winter, plus the spring and late fall, also brings lots of rain to the area, which means even more raging waterfalls, but also the high chance of a very wet hike.

The summertime in the Pacific Northwest is perfect, with tons of sunny days (to make up for the rainier winter and spring), but it will mean much higher crowds, especially on the weekends. There is also a chance that the waterfalls may not be as impressive, since they won’t be getting nearly as much rainfall as the winter and spring.

Day of the week

Regardless of which month you visit, we highly suggest going on a weekday if possible. With the park’s close proximity to many different cities, it’s a hotspot on the weekend.

Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Time of day

We also suggest going as early as possible! We always try to visit right when the South Falls gate opens, which varies by month:

  • November- January: 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
  • February: 8:00 AM- 6:00 PM
  • March: 8:00 AM- 8:00 PM
  • April- August: 7:00 AM- 9:00 PM
  • September: 7:00 AM- 8:00 PM
  • October: 8:00 AM- 7:00 PM

By starting early, you will very likely have the trail to yourself at first! We have encountered very few people on the first half of the hike both times we have hiked this trail, but you can expect to encounter others about midway through, as you’ll start to run into the hikers that are hiking the opposite direction.

The North Falls Trailhead does not have a gate, so if you want to start even earlier than the times above, you can start at that trailhead instead. If doing that, we’d suggest hiking counter-clockwise to knock out the best waterfalls as early as possible.

When we have visited Silver Falls State Park

We have visited Silver Falls State Park twice and both visits were during the spring on gloomy, rainy days, with our most recent visit having lots of rain, completely soaking us. The rain didn’t dampen our spirits though! We personally love and prefer visiting waterfalls on gloomy days, as it just adds to the moodiness. 

Another big advantage of visiting in the rain is that rain doesn’t tend to impact your ability to see the waterfalls, like it may for mountain views, making it a doable adventure in any weather. While the rain did make filming and photography during our hike a bit tricky, we still had a blast!

Things to know before hiking the Trail of Ten Falls

Entrance Fee

There is a $5 day use fee to visit Silver Falls State Park, which you can pay at either trailhead, plus the campground area. The South Falls Trailhead pay station does take credit cards!

If you camp in the park, you do not have to pay this fee at the trailhead, but make sure to have your camping pass on your windshield as proof of payment.

Restrooms

There are restrooms at the two trailheads for this hike, but none along the trail!

Dogs are (mostly) not allowed

Dogs are technically allowed in Silver Falls State Park, but they are only allowed on the Rim Trail portion of the Trail of Ten Falls, not the Canyon Trail, which is where the majority of the waterfalls are. So we’d suggest keeping them at home for this adventure!

Learn how we travel with a dog and what we do with Kona when she cannot join us on our adventures.

Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Lodging inside the park

If you’d like to stay in the park before or after hiking the Trail of Ten Falls the park is home to a campground with about 90 sites, some of which have electric and water, as well as cabins. There are also additional cabins in the park at Smith Creek Village, which also has a restaurant!

What to bring to hike the Trail of Ten Falls

Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

To see everything we take hiking, check out our hiking gear as well as our guide about how to make a 10 essentials kit, but here are a few key items we want to point out that will especially help you when hiking the Trail of Ten Falls!

Camera gear

You will definitely want to bring a camera on this hike! The best camera is the one you have at the moment, but if you’re curious what cameras and gear we use, check out our gear list.

Since it may be rainy, you’ll want to also bring protection for your camera. We just use a good ‘ol shower cap on our camera to keep it dry, which worked pretty well during our very rainy experience in the park.

For those who want to snap some longer exposure shots of the falls, don’t forget a tripod!

Water

There are no water fountains along the trail, so make sure to pack some water! We like to carry our 3L Camelbak bladders while on any hike, which makes it easy to store a lot of water and drink while on the go.

Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Good hiking shoes (+ extra shoes!)

With often wet and muddy trails, you’ll definitely want to bring some hiking shoes with good grip on this hike! You can see which shoes we use here. We’d also suggest bringing an extra pair of shoes (and socks) for after the hike if you decide to hike on a rainy day!

Rain Jacket

Since it can be very rainy at certain times of the year in the park, make sure to bring a rain jacket! This will not only help you on the trail, but also as you walk behind waterfalls!

AllTrails Maps

Cell service is spotty in the park and on this trail, so we highly suggest downloading the offline AllTrails map for this hike. There are multiple junctions along the way and you’ll want to ensure you’re taking the correct trails!

What to expect along the Trail of Ten Falls

Curious what to expect along the Trail of Ten Falls? Below is a run down of the hike, including what each waterfall is like, plus any important information about the trail between each one!

Waterfall #1: South Falls

After parking at the South Falls trailhead, it’s a short walk to the first (and one of the best) waterfalls of the day: South Falls!

South Falls is 177 feet tall and is the first of the four waterfalls that you can walk behind, so it starts the hike off with a bang! There are various viewpoints to view the falls, including from different vantage points before getting to the waterfall, as well as from a bridge right after coming out from behind the falls. But hands down the best part is getting to walk behind it!

So why can you walk behind some of the falls? Many years ago lava flows and falling ash altered the landscape in this area to what is here today. The waterfalls tumble over thick basalt that rests on softer, older rock and over time, the softer rock has eroded, which has created the walkways behind the falls.

And as you walk behind South Falls you will get to witness this first hand, as you have to duck a bit under rocky overhangs. It’s a blast and you will very likely get wet from the mist!

Waterfall #2: Lower South Falls

About a 0.8 mile hike along the Canyon Trail from South Falls, which includes quite a few stairs, will bring you to Lower South Falls! Similar to South Falls, Lower South Falls is a waterfall you can walk behind and while the waterfall is quite a bit shorter, it is nice and wide and still spectacular.

Waterfall #3: Lower North Falls

Lower North Falls | Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

From Lower South Falls, the trail follows the river for a bit, which has super clear, blue water and we even spotted a couple bonus waterfalls along this stretch of the hike! 

After a little over 1 mile, you’ll reach Lower North Falls, which is one of the smaller waterfalls, at about 30 feet or so, but is unique in the sense that it rushes over part of a downed tree.

Waterfall #4: Double Falls

Double Falls | Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

While there have been some larger gaps between the first few waterfalls, the next part of the hike is much more condensed, with waterfall #4, Double Falls, being just a short hike from Lower North Falls. 

Double Falls requires a quick detour off the main trail, but it is well worth it, as it’s the tallest waterfall along the trail at 178 feet, just 1 foot taller than South Falls. As the name implies, it is a double tiered fall, but it’s hard to see the first tier because it’s so high up!

Waterfall #5: Drake Falls

Drake Falls | Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon
As you can see, the camera got a bit wet 🙂

Once getting back on the main trail you’ll come across Drake Falls, which is another smaller waterfall at around 27 feet. While maybe not quite as impressive as the other falls, it features a great overlook of the river as well!

Waterfall #6: Middle North Falls

If you’ve missed getting to walk behind some waterfalls, don’t worry, Middle North Falls has you covered! This 106 foot waterfall is stunning as it cascades over the walkway and down a rockface.

Waterfall #7: Twin Falls

Twin Falls | Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Twin Falls is another one of the shorter falls on the hike, at 31 feet, and gets its name because depending on the water flow, the falls will split over a rock, making two falls.

Waterfall #8: North Falls

The final walk behind waterfall is North Falls, which is about 136 feet tall and may be tied for our favorite (along with South Falls). Unlike the other walk behind falls, which have had more narrow walkways behind them, where you feel the mist, North Falls has a HUGE cave-like walkway behind it and you don’t even get that close to the water. After getting soaked all day, we appreciated the break from the mist. 

Waterfall #9: Upper North Falls

You’re nearing the end of the waterfall journey on the Trail of Ten Falls and for waterfall #9, you’ll have a 0.6 mile (round trip) detour to Upper North Falls, which takes you under the road and right along the river.

The trail ends right at the waterfall, which unlike the others, where you can get pretty close to them, this one is a bit further away, but during our visit, we still felt the intensity of its waters!

Waterfall #10: Winter Falls

Winter Falls | Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Winter Falls is the final waterfall on the hike and requires a bit of a detour (about 0.5 mile round trip). It is said to be at its best in the winter and during our most recent visit in April it still had water, but if you come in the summer, it may just be a trickle!

We think that Winter Falls is worth the detour, as it helps break up the longer forested stretch at the end, which doesn’t have any other waterfalls. After leaving Winter Falls it’s an easy 1.2 miles back to the parking area!

Ready to hike the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park?

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about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

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