Oregon's 17 Most Spectacular Waterfalls: The Ultimate List

Oregon's 17 Most Spectacular Waterfalls: The Ultimate List

Oregon is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the United States.

Chances are you've seen a few photos on social media or seen them while driving through the Oregon countryside. Many people dream about visiting these gorgeous waterfalls but don't know where to start.

Of the over 200 waterfalls, which do you choose to visit?

This list will introduce you to 17 of Oregon's most stunning waterfall hikes and provide you with directions and tips to get to each one.

Let's get right into it!

Table of Contents

17 Most Spectacular Waterfalls to Hike in Oregon

#1. Tawamanas Falls, Hood National Forest

Located near the Eastern base of Mount Hood, Tamanawas Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Oregon.

Formed where Cold Spring Creek thunders over a 110-foot lava cliff before reaching a chilly pool at the bottom, this waterfall is a must-visit for anyone chasing waterfalls in Oregon.

During the summer months, the waterfall is reduced to a thin veil. However, the summer wildflowers and fall colors make the hike to the waterfall worthwhile.

During winter, the spray freezes, forming a massive icy amphitheater.

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Point: Tamawanas Falls Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Tamawana Falls
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 560 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring Into Late Fall

#2. Horsetail and Ponytail Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Anyone chasing waterfalls in Oregon is sure going to love the Horsetail-Ponytail falls loop.

This low elevation loop takes you through three waterfalls, the stunning Oneonta Gorge, and offers you views of the spectacular Oneonta Bottomlands.

The trail begins at the scenic Horsetail falls, goes upwards towards the smaller but still stunning Ponytail falls.

From here, you walk towards the Oneonta Gorge, where you'll also get a view of the Middle and Lower Oneonta Falls.

  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Starting Point: Horsetail Trailhead
  • End Point: Oneonta Trailhead
  • Distance:2.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 565 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: All Year

#3. Shellburg Falls, Santiam State Forest

Are you planning to hike with the kids? Maybe you're a novice hiker going for your first waterfall chase.

The Shellburg falls is an excellent choice for you.

Located along the Stout Creek Canyon, the trail starts at a gated closed road. For the first mile, the only thing you're likely to see is the private pasture lands filled with livestock on both sides.

After a mile, you'll come to the forest, where after a few minutes’ walk, you'll end up at the picturesque base of the tumbling waterfall.

While the water is usually low during the summer, the 100-foot drop is still impressive.

If you're curious enough to walk a few yards downstream, you'll be able to get a glimpse of the Lower Shellburg falls.

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Point: Shellburg Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Shellburg Falls
  • Distance: 2.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 410 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: All Year

NB: Due to the Beachie Creek fire, the trail had been closed. Before visiting, make sure to check with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

#4. Henline Falls, Willamette National Forest

Which is better, a 125-foot waterfall or an abandoned mineshaft?

With the Henline falls trail, you don't have to choose. This easy yet scenic hiking trail along the Little North Santiam River is an excellent day-hike destination for families.

This beautiful 125 feet waterfall is a wide curtain of water that drains into several small but deep green pools.

If you're curious enough to explore further, you'll see the old mine shafts on the right of the falls.

To start the hike, you'll need to first sign in at the wilderness permit box at the trailhead.

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Point: Henline Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Henline Falls
  • Distance:1.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: All Year (Winter may be a bit harsh to hike)

NB: Due to the Beachie Creek fire, the trail had been closed. Before visiting, make sure to check with the Williamette National Forest.

#5. Proxy Falls, Willamette National Forest

No matter your hiking skill level, you're sure to enjoy the Proxy Falls Loop Trail.

Located off the scenic McKenzie Highway, the trail takes you through a beautiful forest, as well as views of other waterfalls before you get to the thundering 100 feet cascading fall.

Along the trail, you have the choice of going towards the Lower Proxy Falls (226 ft.) or the Upper Proxy Falls (129 ft.).

Whichever fall you choose to see first, you can always go back to the main trail and walk towards the other falls.

  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Starting Point: Proxy Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Proxy Falls Trailhead
  • Distance:2 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 905 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring (Trail is crowded during summer.)

Before visiting the trail, make sure to check if the McKenzie Highway is open as it tends to close during the winter months.

#6. Toketee Falls, Umpqua National Forest

If you're looking for a waterfall hike in Oregon where you can get amazing views and learn some history, then be sure to visit the Toketee falls.

Located along Highway 138 East, the Toketee Fall is the best-known waterfall on the North Umpqua River.

Made up of two tiers, The Upper Fall: 28 ft. and The Plunge: 85 ft., framed by the columnar basalt formation on both sides, this magnificent waterfall is a must-visit for anyone chasing waterfalls in Central Oregon.

Despite being a relatively short hike, the hike tends to get a bit hard when you get to the 200 steps ending at the viewing platform.

  • Hike Type: In and Out
  • Starting Point: Toketee Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Toketee Falls Trailhead
  • Distance: 0.8-mile round trip
  • Elevation gain: 120 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring through Fall

#7. Salt Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest

When it comes to waterfalls in Oregon, Salt Creek Falls is one of the most popular hiking destinations.

And for a good reason.

Ranked the 14th tallest waterfall in Oregon and the second tallest single-drop waterfall in the state, these falls are just magnificent to see.

Located on Highway 58 between Eugene and Roseburg, this waterfall offers you some lovely scenic views along with a chance to see an unforgettable 286 ft tall cascade of water falling into a raging river below.

You can view the waterfall from two points. The first viewpoint is accessed through a paved trail that leads to a steep slope.

The second viewpoint is a bit longer as it takes you along the creek and through the lush green forest.

  • Hike Type: Reverse Lollipop loop
  • Starting Point: Salt Creek Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Salt Creek Falls Viewpoint
  • Distance: 1-mile round trip
  • Elevation gain: 335 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring through Fall

#8. Sahalie and Koosah Falls Loop Hike, Williamette National Forest

The Sahalie and Koosah waterfall loop hike is another excellent waterfall chasing option for the family.

Thanks to the straightforward route to reach both these waterfalls, any hiker (no matter their skill level) can enjoy the view of these waterfalls.

This leads to one problem!

If you don't like crowds, these aren't the falls for you.

However, the crowds notwithstanding, both the Sahalie and Koosah falls are beautiful, with water all year.

The bigger Sahalie stands at 100 ft. while the Koosah stands at 70 ft. tall.

This short loop takes you to both waterfalls and connects you to the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, which is synonymous for its moss-laden towering trees and magnificent view of the ice-blue river water.

  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Starting Point: Sahalie Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Carmen Reservoir Trailhead
  • Distance: 2.6-mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 380 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-spring through fall

#9. White River Falls State Park, Maupin

You've probably seen photos of the Niagra falls. White River Falls is like a mini version of the Niagra falls.

Located in Central Oregon, this waterfall plunges over 90 ft. into a stunning icy cold pool. During the spring, the fall is a wide thundering curtain of water. It's, however, reduced to a series of individual trickles during late summer.

You can view the fall from a railed viewpoint just off the parking lot or take the half-mile steep hike to get a closer view of the falls.

On this short hike, you'll also get a view of the old hydroelectric plant that once used the falls to generate power.

And that's not all!

Once you get to the falls, you can choose to take the additional side trail that leads you down to a nice pool of water where you can rest.

  • Hike Type: In and Out
  • Starting Point: White River Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Lower White River Falls
  • Distance: 1.4-mile round trip
  • Elevation gain: 250 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: No
  • Best Time to Visit: All year

#10. Sweet Creek Falls, Siuslaw National Forest

Of all the trails in this article, this is probably the one with the most waterfalls and trailheads.

Depending on what distance you want to cover, you can choose one of the four trails, with the most popular being the 2.2 miles in and out hike.

On this trail, you'll get a view of 10 smaller waterfalls before getting to the 70 ft four-tier Sweet Creek Falls.

  • Hike Type: In and Out
  • Starting Point: Sweet Creek Homestead Trailhead (Best Route if you want to see all 11 waterfalls)
  • End Point: Beaver Creek Trailhead
  • Distance:5.2 mile round trip
  • Elevation gain: 650 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-Friendly: No
  • Best Time to Visit: All year

#11. Golden and Silver Falls State National Area

If you're around the Coastal forests of Southwest Oregon, the Golden and Silver falls are a must-visit.

Here's why:

Other than being the second and third tallest waterfalls in the Oregon Coast Range, these falls are a sort of hidden gem. You won't expect to find crowds here.

The tallest of the two, Silver Falls, stands at 259 feet, while the equally impressive Golden Falls stands at 254 feet.

To access the waterfall, you have the choice of three trails. One to the Silver Falls, another to the Golden Falls, and one that takes you to both falls.

  • Hike Type: In and Out
  • Starting Point: Golden and Silver Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Golden falls, or Silver falls
  • Distance:3.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 515 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time to Visit: Winter and Spring

#12. Multnomah-Wahkeena Falls Loop Hike, Columbia River Gorge

The Multnomah-Wahkeena falls hike is one of the most famous waterfall loops in Oregon.

On this trail, you'll get the chance to experience Oregon's tallest waterfall, the Multnomah falls (620 ft), five large waterfalls, and multiple cascades.

For this hike, you can begin at either the Multnomah falls or Wahkeena trailheads.

If you're looking to avoid crowds, it's best to start your hike at the Multnomah trailhead.

To get to the Multnomah falls viewpoint, you'll have to climb to the Benson Bridge. From here, hike to Larch Mountain Trail, where you'll get a chance to see several other smaller waterfalls before getting to Wahkeena falls.

  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Starting Point: Multnomah or Wahkeena Trailhead
  • End Point: Wahkeena or Multnomah Trailhead
  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-Friendly: No
  • Best Time to Visit: All year

#13. Latourell Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Latourell Falls is one of the most famous waterfall trails in Oregon.

And for good reason.

This 224 tall waterfall is the closest waterfall to the city of Portland. It's also pet-friendly, making it possible to hike with your dog.

If you're looking for great waterfall photos, this is also the place to be.

On this hike, you'll first see the Lower Latourell Falls. If you're willing to continue, you can hike further uphill to get to the Upper Latourell Falls.

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Point: Latourell Trailhead
  • End Point: Upper Latourell Falls
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 625 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Best time to visit: All year (Winter hikes may be dangerous)

#14. Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest

If you're ever in the Bend area, Tumalo Falls is a must-visit.

Enclosed in a luscious pine forest, this 100 feet cascading curtain of water provides a picture-perfect landscape similar to those found in fairy tales.

And here's the best part!

The Tumalo waterfalls aren't the only falls on this trail. You'll also get to experience the Middle Fork Tumalo Falls and several other unnamed waterfalls.

One thing to know with this hike is that you should expect large crowds up to Tomalo falls. From there, the crowds slowly wear off as you climb to the Middle Fork Tumalo Creek and the fall.

  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Starting Point: Tumalo Trailhead
  • End Point: Middle Fork Tumalo Falls
  • Distance: 7.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1460 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-Friendly: No
  • Best time to visit: Summer through Fall

#15. Abiqua Falls, Santium State Forest

This is one of Oregon's most scenic waterfalls, yet one of its most hidden gems.

To get to this waterfall, you'll have to put a bit of effort and be in an adventurous spirit. However, the hike is relatively short but quite steep. (People have fallen here, so be very careful)

You'll also need to scramble over rocks and boulders to get to the waterfall.

But all this risk and effort is worth it!

This 90-foot waterfall, encompassed by striking basalt formations adorned with red lichen and moss, is simply breathtaking.

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Point: Abiqua Falls Trailhead
  • End Point: Abiqua Falls
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 180 ft
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Kid-Friendly: No
  • Best time to visit: All year

#16. The Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park

Other than being the largest state park in Oregon, Silver Falls State Park also boasts of having the best waterfall day hike in Oregon.

On this 7.8 mile hike through the Silver Creek Canyon, you're bound to come across ten spectacular waterfalls, countless cascades, and an array of intermittent falls.

Of the ten waterfalls, two are quite memorable. The South Fall due to its height (177 ft.) and The North Falls (136 ft.) thanks to the caves behind the falls.

Other falls on this trail are:

  • Lower South Falls (93 ft.)
  • Lower North Falls (30 ft.)
  • Double Falls (178 ft.)
  • Drake Falls (27 ft)
  • Middle North Falls (103 ft.),
  • Twin Falls (31 ft.)
  • Upper North Falls (65 ft.)
  • Winter Falls (134 ft.)

While on this trail, expect numerous ups and downs as you go through the different falls. For the best experience, visit during spring.

  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Starting Point: South Falls Lodge Trailhead
  • End Point: Upper North Falls
  • Distance: 7.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1300 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-Friendly: No
  • Best time to visit: All year

#17. Gorton Creek Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Gorton Creek Falls is unlike other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.

For starters, you won't expect to find crowds here. To get to this stunning 115 ft waterfall, be prepared to slip, fall and scramble up boulders.

However, it's all worth it!

While on the trail to Gorton Falls, you'll first come across the amazing 10 foot Emerald Falls. This is where most people with kids end their hike.

From here, the challenge begins.

Between Emerald Falls and Gorton Falls is where you gain the most elevation on the hike.

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Point: Wyeth Trailhead
  • End Point: Gorton Creek Falls
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 150 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-Friendly: Upto Emerald Falls
  • Best time to visit: All year

Tips for Exploring Waterfalls in Oregon

Tip 1: Confirm Whether the Trail is Open

Due to forest fire damage, or the risk of forest fires, the US Forest department may decide to close off some trails.

Before visiting any waterfall, check to ensure that the trail is open. And not just the trail!

Also check to ensure that the route to the trailhead is open.

Tip 2: Leave No Trace

While chasing waterfalls, make sure to leave the environment as you found it.

That means to take nothing but photos and leave nothing behind.

Pack out all your garbage! This includes cigarette butts and food wrappers.

Tip: bring a small reusable bag with you to place trash in before putting it back into your backpack.

Check out this article to learn more about Leave no Trace principles

Tip 3: Have the Right Gear

One of the most significant risks when chasing waterfalls is slipping and falling, especially on steep descents.

When chasing waterfalls in Oregon, make sure you have the right gear. This includes slip-proof shoes, water-proof pants, water resistant jackets, waterproof socks, a waterproof bag.

Tip 4: Know the Best Time to Visit Waterfalls

While waterfalls look beautiful all year round, there are some times when it's best to visit them.

Chasing Waterfalls in Oregon during winter might be a challenge due to snow and ice on the trails.

Chasing waterfalls during summer is more risk-free, but most waterfalls are reduced to trickles. Waterfall chasing during summer also means you have to deal with crowds.

Which Waterfalls Will You Be Chasing?

There you go.

A list of 17 incredible waterfall trails to hike in Oregon. Which of these waterfalls which you be hiking to? Which of these have you already hiked in?

Tell us in the comment section below.

And if you're looking for high-quality water-resistant outdoor apparel for your waterfall chasing adventures, Northbound Gear has you covered. Whether it's water-resistant pants, waterproof jackets, waterproof socks, or hiking bags, our online shop has it all.

Onwards and Upwards with Northbound Gear.

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