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Waterfalls have a unique magic. What is it about simple falling water that draws our attention, our adoration? Similar to the flickering flames of a fire, we are compelled to sit for a spell. We are blessed to have abundant waterfalls near Eugene, and we find ourselves seeking them out, weekend after weekend. Here are some of our favorites, most within an hour’s drive from Eugene and Springfield.
Waterfalls Near Eugene
This list is not at all complete, these are just a few waterfalls that we’ve visited near Eugene. All are worth your time and effort to see! And since we’ve taken our kids to each one, I can say they’re safe and fun waterfalls for kids, too!
All of these have restrooms at the trailhead, but only Salt Creek Falls has running water, so be sure to pack a picnic and plenty of water!
Hills Creek Falls, aka Jasper Falls
For a short jaunt to a tiny-but-mighty waterfall, you won’t be disappointed by Hills Creek Falls (also called Jasper Falls). This officially unnamed waterfall is in the unincorporated town of Jasper, Oregon. Too small to be on most maps, we think Jasper Falls is lovely anytime of year and deserves to make the list! Located on a wayside off Jasper Road, this waterfall trickles daintily in summer and rushes with whitewater in the winter. A picnic table and a historical interpretive sign can extend your trip into a lovely afternoon picnicking riverside. Explore the old foundation of the Jasper Cereal Mills, which served the community from 1887 to the late 1930s.
Amenities: Picnic table & grill
Distance from Eugene: 13 miles
Directions: From Springfield, follow Bob Straub Parkway to Jasper Road. Turn left for 2 miles to the town of Jasper. The waterfall wayside is on the right, marked by an Oregon State Parks sign.
This lovely waterfall cascades 226 feet into a pool with a tiny stream that meanders through a forest. Part of the Three Sisters Wilderness, this well-loved 1.6-mile trail is perfect for beginners and families. The trail winds through trees, then climbs through lava flows. The elevation gain is about 150 feet, so it’s not too strenuous, just enough to make you sweat! Once you arrive at Proxy Falls, you’ll quickly cool off in the mist. Proxy Falls can be viewed from a natural bench on the trail, or from below after scrambling over a few trees.
The Proxy Falls trail also includes a bonus waterfall: the much smaller but still beautiful Upper Proxy Falls, which empties into an ice cold pool.
The road to the Proxy Falls trail is closed during the winter, but you can hike in from the gate (additional 2 miles each way).
Fees: A Northwest Forest Pass ($5) is required.
Amenities: vault toilet at trailhead
Distance from Eugene: 58 miles
Directions: From McKenzie Bridge, OR, travel east on Highway 126 to Highway 242. Travel east on Highway 242 for 9 miles to Proxy Falls Trailhead.
Trestle Creek Falls
Ninety minutes from Eugene, at the end of a narrow trail is a “moss covered grotto”, where a box canyon hides waterfall treasure. Most impressive during the winter and spring when water flows are higher, Trestle Creek is beautiful even in the heat of summer. Sometimes called Lower Trestle Creek Falls, (a deference to the Upper Trestle Creek Falls further up the trail), it cascades 60 feet to the pool at the bottom. This 1.3 mile out-and-back trail is part of the Brice Creek Trail system out of Cottage Grove, and we were the only ones around when we visited.
I love box canyons for adventures with kids, because they’re generally pretty safe. Our kids can wander and explore under supervision without fear of them getting lost. And our toddlers are usually pretty content to sit and throw rocks into the water.
Amenities: vault toilet at trailhead
Distance from Eugene: 55 miles
Directions: The trailhead begins 25 miles southeast of Cottage Grove. From Cottage Grove, OR take exit 174 on Interstate 5, take Row River Road, #2400, east 19 miles to the junction of Layng Creek Road, #17, and Brice Creek Road, #2470. Bear right on Road #2470 and continue for another 8.2 miles to the Champion Creek Trailhead, of the Brice Creek Trail near the junction of Champion Creek Road, #2473 and Brice Creek Road, #2470. The Brice Creek Trail begins across the bridge and on the left, upstream of the trailhead. Hike one-third mile west on the Brice Creek Trail, #1403, to the Trestle Creek Falls Trail junction (just west of the Trestle Creek Trail Bridge), then travel north for another 0.3 miles to the waterfalls.
Sweet Creek Falls
Sweet Creek Falls is synonymous with “waterfalls near Eugene”. It is, perhaps, the pinnacle of Lane County waterfall trails. A flat 2.2 mile out-and-back hike is studded with not one, not two, but eleven waterfalls. Beautiful anytime of the year, it really shines in the spring with higher water flows. It seems like one waterfalls flows into another (and sometimes, they literally do) and it’s challenging to count all eleven. It’s also hard to walk on the trail, because your eyes are always on the water! The trail is easy and makes for a great day hike.
The trail, for us, ends at Sweet Creek Falls. This final, glorious waterfall cascades for 70 feet in four tiers. My photo below only shows half of the waterfall! The trail does actually continue further up for people wanting a longer hike, but most turn around at Sweet Creek Falls and head back to the trailhead.
Amenities: vault toilet at trailhead
Distance from Eugene: 46 miles
Directions: Travel Highway 126 to Siuslaw River Bridge in Mapleton, Oregon (15 miles east of Florence or 46 miles west of Eugene). Sweet Creek Road #5036 is located on the East-side of the Mapleton bridge. Travel South on Sweet Creek Road for 10.2miles, Homestead Trailhead is on the right.
Sahalie Falls & Koosah Falls
These are the easiest waterfalls on our list to enjoy, and, some would say, two of the most beautiful. Sahalie Falls is just a few feet from a highway wayside. Stop for a picnic and enjoy the waterfall, which drops 100 feet over a lava dam. The paved path takes you to an overlook that is well worth the stop, whether you have an hour or just a few minutes. For more adventurous types, there’s a short hike to the top of the falls, and for a longer day hike, a fun 2.6 mile trek goes down to Koosah Falls and back up the other side, crossing again above Sahalie. We hiked this years ago when our teen daughter was a tyke, and as long as you hold hands past the steep parts, it’s a family-friendly hike with many beautiful and unique views of both waterfalls.
Koosah Falls is also located near a wayside, and the viewing deck is accessible for wheelchairs. Koosah drops 70 feet into a pool below. Both waterfall waysides have restrooms and parking available. Koosah is generally less congested, but we’ve always been able to see both without a wait.
Amenities: vault toilets are available at both parking lots
Distance from Eugene: 71 miles (okay, this is over 60 miles, but how can I not include them?!)
Directions: Northeast of McKenzie Bridge off Hwy 126. For Koosah Falls Day Use Area turn at Ice Cap Campground / Koosah Falls sign. For access to Sahalie Falls Day Use Area go north another .5 mile (.804667 km) and turn into the parking lot signed for Sahalie.
Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second-highest waterfall with a drop of 286 feet. This is absolutely a must-see if you love waterfalls and are willing to drive just over an hour from Eugene to see it. There is an accessible viewing platform off the parking lot, or you can hike down to nearly the bottom in a 1.2 mile out-and-back trail (the trail used to go all the way to the bottom, but was washed out during a storm…until it is fully repaired, we don’t recommend going beyond the warning signs.)
The parking lot is closed during the winter, but many people snowshoe in to see Salt Creek Falls in it’s winter clothing…stunning!
Off the parking lot is another trail that winds through the woods and along Salt Creek above the falls. This also leads to the trailhead for another waterfall, Diamond Creek Falls, which is a 2.5 mile loop. We’ve never done that hike, but I’m putting it on my list for this spring!
Fees: $5 Northwest Forest Pass
Amenities: Fully accessible bathrooms with running water
Distance from Eugene: 65 miles
Directions: Salt Creek Falls Observation Site is 23 miles (37.015 km) southeast of Oakridge and approximately 5 miles (8.0467 km) west of Willamette Pass. From Hwy 58 look for the signs, east of milepost 58, turn onto Forest Service Road 5893 and follow the signs.
I plan to add to this post as we visit more waterfalls near Eugene. I hear that the trifecta of Moon Falls, Pinard Falls, and Spirit Falls is amazing, and they’re on our list to hike soon!
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