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Golden and Silver Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The lip of Golden Falls, Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area (bobcat)
Maples and myrtles, Golden Falls Trail (bobcat)
Golden Falls from below (bobcat)
Silver Falls from the Upper Trail ( (bobcat)
The cliff road to Golden Falls (bobcat)
The three in and out trails at Golden and Silver Falls State Park (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Golden and Silver Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Golden Falls and Silver Falls
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Three in and out hikes
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 515 feet
  • High Point: 615 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Silver Falls (259 feet) and Golden Falls (254 feet) are the second and third tallest waterfalls in the Oregon Coast Range after Munson Creek Falls in Tillamook County (Measurements are according to the Northwest Waterfall Survey). There are three trails in this remote Coast Range state park 23 miles east of Coos Bay: one to Silver Falls, one to Golden Falls, and the middle one that visits both! I suggest doing the trails in that order. You’ll also be hiking on one of the more interesting trails in Oregon. This was a pack trail that was transformed into a wagon road in 1901 by four homesteaders from the upper Glenn Creek valley above Golden Falls. The road was blasted out of the cliffs, crossing Silver Falls at their base on a wooden bridge, and then hugging the cliff to the top of Golden Falls, 300 feet above the creek. An automobile stage operated this route, barely wide enough to accommodate a Model T, between 1912 and 1916, running from Allegany to Scottsburg. After road improvements, trucks were able to bring lumber down the cliffs from a sawmill in the upper Glenn Creek valley. The last homesteader left the upper valley in 1958, and the road was closed although parts of the current park had been public property since the 1930s.

Note that from 2014 to 2016, you had to park at a pullout and walk the last 1 ½ miles in to the park because of a landslide; state parks couldn’t afford the repairs, but a local dairy farmer charitably helped to bail them out. Older websites and guidebooks may accordingly give longer distances for this outing. The road closure may be one reason why this was the least visited state park in the system in 2016 with only 5,500 visits. Your best time for visiting will be after the wet season is well under way: Silver Falls can vanish to almost nothing in the summer, and Golden Falls, although on a larger creek, is a pale shadow of its winter/spring self.

Golden Falls were named after Dr. C.B. Golden, first Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias of Oregon, and one of the first visitors to the falls. Silver Falls were discovered later and, in the mistaken impression that this was a metallic theme that needed to be reinforced, were so named.

Go left from the parking area for Silver Falls. Walk past a white bollard, and see the interpretive sign that describes the old homesteader road you’ll be hiking on. Tall old-growth Douglas-firs tower overhead, and alders, maples, and myrtles, also known as California bay laurel, shade Silver Creek. The old road track levels among thimbleberry thickets, and you’ll get your first glimpse of Silver Falls plunging over a sandstone dome. The trail now negotiates a slide which has completely obscured the road track. When you reach a fallen Douglas-fir, take a look at the falls, enjoy the negative ions from the spray, and return to the trailhead.

Next, walk through the myrtle grove that shades the picnic area to cross Silver Creek on a footbridge. The trail splits at an ancient myrtle. Go right for the short trip to the base of Golden Falls. Glenn Creek flows quietly to your right, and mossy myrtles and big-leaf maples overhang the path. Pass through a sword fern/salmonberry thicket. A spur right leads to Glenn Creek and a summer paddle pool. Pass around a large boulder, and see Golden Falls spilling over the cliff above. In summer, you can clamber through the boulder field for a closer view, but at all other times of year, this area becomes a running channel of Glenn Creek.

Return to the junction near the Silver Creek footbridge to embark upon the third and longest (0.9 miles one way) excursion here. Ignore a shortcut, and head up a slope of tall Douglas-firs, myrtles, and evergreen huckleberry. Switchback to get views down to Silver Creek. At the next switchback, go left to clamber up a rooty path to get a closer view of Silver Falls from almost directly below. On the main trail, you have now rejoined the homesteader track after it passed below Silver Falls on a wooden bridge. Pass under a toppled Douglas-fir nursing an entire village of evergreen huckleberry plants. Hike under sandstone cliffs, and then walk through a defile. The road track now breaks out onto cliffs 300 feet above Glenn Creek to reach the top of Golden Falls, which plunges over an upper tier and then spills into the void. Keep well away from the edge here as pieces break away regularly. An unofficial trail continues a little way up Glenn Creek, pushing through salal, evergreen huckleberry, and fallen trees but soon peters out.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Picnic tables, vault toilets

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • 75 Hikes in Oregon’s Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Out Our Back Door: Driving Tours and Day-Hikes in Oregon’s Coos Region by Tom Baake
  • 76 Day-Hikes Within 100 Miles of the Rogue Valley by Art Bernstein
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon’s Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.