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Maple Ridge Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

South Falls (Steve Hart)
Lower South Falls (Steve Hart)


Hike Description

There are a number of loop hikes in Silver Falls State Park. This is one of the shorter loops, offering the chance to view and even walk behind South Falls and Lower South Falls. The loop can be hiked in either direction, but I typically like to start with the less exciting pieces and save the cool stuff for when I'm tired. For this write up, we'll start with the Maple Ridge Trail and see the waterfalls on the way back.

Start at the South Falls Lodge Trailhead, in parking lot A. Start down the Canyon Trail. In about a tenth of a mile you'll come to South Lodge, a 1940s era building in the northwest forest style. Another quarter mile down the bricked trail will bring to a trail junction. Turn right on the Maple Ridge Trail and start north. The trail turns to dirt and begins to drop down into the Silver Creek Canyon. After about a mile you'll come to another trail junction, again with the Canyon Trail. This is the distant point of your loop.

Turn left here and proceed up the South Fork of Silver Creek. Soon, you'll come to Lower South Falls. The creek plunges off of a lava lip in a wide sheet here. Like most waterfalls, Lower South Falls is more dramatic in the winter and spring when water flows are highest. Maps make it seem that there is a nearby trail bridge here. The reality is much more interesting as the trail loops behind the waterfall itself in a large cave like grotto. After crossing behind the waterfall, the trail climbs several switchbacks of stairs and continues upstream.

After a long half mile, the trail comes to the most popular waterfall in the park, South Falls. South Falls is the second highest waterfall in the park and it's the highest single drop. Though the Canyon Trail crosses a bridge here and heads up the canyon wall, an alternate route crosses behind the waterfall in yet another natural grotto. There's even a bench here, to rest on, inside the grotto. South Falls rates as one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon, along with Multnomah Falls and Punchbowl Falls. After passing the falls, the trail climbs the side of the canyon, providing several beautiful looks back at South Falls. There's a short spur trail to Frenchie Falls, which is a tiny drop that stops completely in the summer. Soon you'll come to the trail junction you passed earlier and a quick stroll brings you back to your car.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • State Park Pass required. $5.00 daily at the parking lot gatekeeper.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L Sullivan
  • Silver Falls Park in Oregon by Mark & Diane Pearson (Kindle)

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.