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Niagara Park Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

North Santiam River, Niagara County Park (bobcat)
Trefoil foam flower (Tiarella trifoliata var. trifoliata), Niagara County Park (bobcat)
Sevenmile Creek Falls from Niagara County Park (bobcat)
Trails routes at Niagara County Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Niagara Park TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Niagara Rocks
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.0 miles
  • High Point: 1,070 feet
  • Elevation gain: 105 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Mid-spring to mid-fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Marion County's Niagara Park verges on the North Santiam River east of Gates near the townsite of Niagara, first platted in 1890. Construction began at the end of that decade on a masonry dam that would generate power for a paper mill. Remains of the dam structure remain (You will walk over them to a viewing platform), but the enterprise was never completed and was finally abandoned in 1912. Niagara once boasted the tiniest post office in the United States, a 6' x 8' cabin that was closed in 1934. The park now offers river access to summer swimming holes at its east end and views over the last narrow chasm on the North Santiam at the west end. The Powder House Trail connects the parking area with the east end's Niagara Rocks.

At the parking area, there's a map sign for the Powder House Trail detailing its less-than-a-mile length. The path heads along a forested bluff above the North Santiam River, with the gravel access road to the left. There are little plaques labeling some of the flora. The canopy here is Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple and western red-cedar with an Oregon grape, oxalis, sword fern, and salal understory. The trail passes a viewpoint now mostly blocked by trees and crosses a footbridge. Then the tread drops and levels to pass overgrown picnic sites - only the grills are left. At a junction, a trail leads up to the left past a shed (the powder house) and two outhouses to the road. Go right and head down some stone steps. At another junction, a spur leads right onto some large rocks above the river. The main trail continues past some madrones and comes out on the expanse of Niagara Rocks to offer views of the river. There are swimming holes below these rocks suitable for safe summer enjoyment. From here, steps lead up to the left back to the road.

Walk down the dusty gravel road. It’s green and shady, but Highway 22 is buzzing just above you. There’s a sedge swamp to the right and then a picnic table. Reach the parking area and walk across to the picnic area and restrooms. From here, metal steps (not good for dogs) lead down to a walled-in viewing area, part of the masonry dam that was begun at the end of the 19th century but never reached completion. Beneath this walkway, one channel of the river was blocked and the walkway extends over a series of arches. You can't see the four-foot chasm which the river squeezes through in summer, but warning signs tell you to go no further. Across, a waterfall pours down Sevenmile Creek into the North Santiam. There’s a memorial plaque to someone who perished here.


Maps

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Park open May 1st to October 31st
  • Day-use only: open 8:00 a.m. to sunset
  • Picnic tables, restrooms, interpretive signs
  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger

More Links


Contributors

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.