Hike of the Month: Trail of Ten Falls

Get your fill of autumnal forests and dramatic waterfalls

Looking out from behind a thin waterfall upon a forest of evergreen and deciduous trees.

Fall colors loading in 3... 2... 1... (scroll down for the transformation)

Photo by @cambrieee_

Table of Contents

Silver Falls State Park gives the Columbia River Gorge a run for its money when it comes to surreal waterfall hikes. The park near Silverton boasts more than a few pedestrian paths to explore, but only one takes visitors above, behind, or around 10 waterfalls: the aptly named Trail of Ten Falls.

Quick facts

  • Starting point: South Falls Lodge Trailhead, Silver Falls Hwy. SE, Silverton
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7.4 miles
  • Route type: Loop
  • Elevation gain: 1,151 ft
  • Trail surface: Mostly unpaved
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Open: All year, times vary
  • Dog friendly: No

Brief overview

Known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system, Silver Falls is also the largest in the state at 9,000 acres. The Civilian Conservation Corps turned it into a park in the 1930s following a long campaign by local photographer June D. Drake for whom one of the falls was named after.

Why you should try it

Where else can you walk behind four waterfalls in one afternoon? The Trail of Ten Falls is a photographer’s paradise, offering views of some of Oregon’s very best: massive Douglas firs dripping moss, fern-blanketed forest floors, seasonal wildflowers, craggy basalt canyons formed by ancient lava flows, and, of course, waterfalls. This is a must-do hike if you live in the PNW.

A slideshow of several waterfalls during autumn surrounded by deciduous trees, pines, and basalt cliffs.

Fall, winter, and spring are arguably the best seasons to visit as the falls are flowing more powerfully.

Photos by @benmcbeephoto

Pro tips

Bring $5 or a State Park Pass to park at Silver Falls State Park and try to arrive early because the trails are extremely popular nearly every day of the year. We recommend taking the loop clockwise to see the park’s tallest waterfall, South Falls (177 ft), right away. Be prepared for wet paths and getting “rained” on by waterfall spray. Download a map before setting out since there are many spur trails, bridges, and junctions without markers along the way.

Let us know

Did you try this hike? Do you know of one we should check out? Send us your thoughts + recommendations.

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