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Niagara Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Pheasant Creek Falls and Pheasant Creek (bobcat)
Footbridge on the Niagara Falls Trail (bobcat)
Fairy lanterns (Prosartes smithii) (bobcat)
Niagara Falls (cattrapper)
Niagara Falls hike map (cattrapper)
  • Start point: Niagara Falls Trailhead
  • End point: Pheasant Creek Falls
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 2.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 455 feet
  • High point: 1,370 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All seasons, but best in winter
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Two one hundred foot waterfalls tumble off of a high rim in the western marches of the Siuslaw National Forest. It's a winding time-consuming drive to reach the trailhead - it's best accessed via Sheridan if you're coming from the Portland area. There aren't any other trails in the area, so this will be an outing where the drive time exceeds the time on the trail. The hike in is short but all downhill, meaning a switchbacking rise on the way back. The two waterfalls are different and, until recently, have usually been confused with one another - and neither waterfall looks anything like the Niagara Falls. The first waterfall you'll see is the single drop on Pheasant Creek that plunges straight down into an amphitheater: according to the Northwest Waterfall Survey, this is Pheasant Creek Falls. You'll round a corner and pass right below splashing Niagara Falls before you can get to Pheasant Creek Falls, the more attractive of the two. Why was there confusion for so long? There is a Niagara Creek nearby (Pheasant Creek is a tributary), but it's a mile west in the next drainage. Niagara Falls flows off the steep slopes of 1,724-foot Niagara Point, however, after which it was originally named. Visitors, confused because neither waterfall is marked on topographical maps, assumed the stronger single plunge fall on Pheasant Creek was Niagara and the misnomer has been perpetuated, including in most references on the internet, in hiking guidebooks, and on the Forest Service web page. Winter and spring are the best months to come here as the water flow is much reduced in the summer and fall.

The Niagara Falls Trail #1379 descends into secondary Douglas-fir forest interspersed with big snags, often capped with salal "wigs," from a long-ago burn. The understory is predominantly composed of vine maple, salal, and sword fern. In spring, there's a veritable smorgasbord of forest wildflowers blooming alongside the trail: look for trillium, candy flower, fairy lanterns, woods violet, bleeding heart, salmonberry, fringe-cup, solomon plume, baneberry, and heliotrope among others. You'll switchback down twice to a small creek guarded by the mossy trunks of big-leaf maples. Recross the creek in an area of salmonberry thickets, and then cross it again on a footbridge. There's a stand of larger Douglas-firs here. The trail makes another switchback and passes between two big Douglas-firs. Reach a larger creek, which you'll cross on a footbridge, and then pass a five-foot diameter Douglas-fir next to the trail. Switchback down again to cross a footbridge above a splashing waterfall, and then make two more switchbacks into the steep-sided canyon of Pheasant Creek. The trail traverses above the creek to offer a view straight ahead to Pheasant Creek Falls plunging over a rim. Then you'll round a corner above a tributary ravine and cross a footbridge below 122-foot Niagara Falls, which splashes pleasantly down a steep basalt rock face and sprays the trail. In spring, look for violet suksdorfia and Martens' saxifrage blooming on the damp rock faces. From Niagara Falls, you can hike on a short distance to admire 124-foot Pheasant Creek Falls from a picnic table (the height includes an 18-foot upper tier). A short spur leads down to Pheasant Creek from the end of the trail, offering a slightly different vantage point.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Siuslaw National Forest
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Oregon Central Coast

Regulations, Fees, or Restrictions, etc.

  • No fees or permits
  • No facilities at trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 25 Hikes on Oregon's Tillamook Coast by Adam Sawyer
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon's North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 75 Hikes in Oregon's Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger
  • Siuslaw Forest Hikes: A Guide to Oregon's Central Coast Range Trails by Irene & Dick Lilja
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson

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.