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Salt Creek Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Salt Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest (bobcat)
Salt Creek above the falls (bobcat)
Looking down Salt Creek towards Judd Mountain, Salt Creek Falls (bobcat)
The short trails at Salt Creek Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Salt Creek Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Salt Creek Falls viewpoints
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Reverse lollipop loop
  • Distance: 1.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 335 feet
  • High Point: 4,090 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Spring into fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Description

Salt Creek Falls is an impressive sight at any time of the year as it plunges over a 300-foot-thick basalt ledge of lava flows that issued from Fuji Mountain and Mount Yoran. Glacial action carved the ledge here and an active creek did the rest. At 286 feet, the falls are billed as Oregon’s second tallest single-drop waterfall after Multnomah Falls, but in fact Watson Falls were shown to be 2nd tallest when they were remeasured in 2009. The Northwest Waterfall Survey lists Salt Creek Falls as 14th tallest overall in the state (including waterfalls with multiple drops). There are two viewpoints for the falls: the easy one is a short walk on a paved trail to the rain of a natural amphitheater; then you can follow a trail down a steep slope for a head-on view of the falls. Another trail along Salt Creek places you above the lip of the falls near the shady picnic area.

There’s an interpretive kiosk at the Salt Creek Falls Trailhead which explains the formation of the falls and the surrounding ecosystem. Hike a wide, paved trail through Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and rhododendrons to arrive, in short order, at the clifftop overlook down into Salt Creek Falls’ amphitheater. You can climb the stairs to your right to get a slightly different angle on the falls, but photography is tricky on a bright sunny day. Looking down the Salt Creek Canyon, you'll see the prominences of Judd Mountain on the skyline.

From the top of the steps, follow a pole-rail fenced trail almost all the way back to Highway 58, and then switchback. Make two more switchbacks as you descend with a small creek to your right. Head down a steep slope, and reach a viewpoint where you’ll get a head-on perspective of Salt Creek Falls. You can descend further to the base of the falls and its deep plunge pool, but this is not recommended. The switchbacks are steep, loose, and you’ll kick up clouds of dust. Then, you’ll have to come all the way back up!

Returning to the first viewpoint, continue along the rim of the waterfall amphitheater. An interpretive sign explains that black swifts nest under the waterfall and hatch in July. You’ll get a close view over the lip of Salt Creek Falls before you follow a trail along Salt Creek past the picnic area. At a junction marked for the Diamond Creek Falls Trail #3598 near an alder-shaded footbridge over the creek, go left to return to the parking area, passing several picnic tables. To continue on a longer loop, see the Diamond Creek Falls Loop Hike.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Restrooms, picnic area, interpretive signs
  • Dogs on leash

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Diamond Peak Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Middle Fork Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Willamette Cascades
  • Adventure Maps: Oakridge, Oregon Trail Map

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Eugene, Oregon by Art Bernstein & Lynn Bernstein
  • Hiking Central Oregon & Beyond by Virginia Meissner
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Hiking Oregon’s Central Cascades by Bruce Grubbs
  • Hiking Oregon’s Three Sisters Country by Bruce Grubbs
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • Oregon's Southern Cascades: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Best Dog Hikes: Oregon edited by Falcon Guides

More Links


Page 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.