3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
mileagemike25000
Posts: 475
Joined: February 8th, 2012, 7:40 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by mileagemike25000 » March 31st, 2012, 8:41 pm

This hike was meant to be from the Upper Smith Creek TH to the Perimeter trail. That plan didn't happen!

We started out at the Smith Creek Cabin parking lot.
0 Smith Creek Cabins parking area_(1).JPG
Then we walked up the road to the Upper Smith Creek TH sign and were feeling pretty good about making some serious distance.
1 Upper Smith Creek TH_(1).JPG
We didn't hike more than about 3 blocks when we came upon a portion of Smith Creek taking a detour across the trail!
2 Stream flooding over trail_(1).JPG
Unfortunately, the water was about 6"+ deep and wasn't crossable without taking off the shoes. So we turned around and headed for the Smith Creek Conference Center where an alternate route could be taken to get to the Perimeter trail.
3 Bridge over stream on way to conference center area_(1).JPG
4 Heading up trail from conference area_(1).JPG
We continued up the Equestrian trail and turned onto the Cutoff Trail.
5 Cutoff Trail_(1).JPG
We continued to hike to the Buck Loop Trail and turned right to continue on toward the Perimeter trail. We hit our first patch of snow at about 1900ft and thought the entire trail would be clear.
6 First patch of snow_(1).JPG
And we continued to hike and went straight at a couple of junctions until we hit the snow line at about 2300ft!
6 Hitting solid snow!_(1).JPG
There were a few bare patches but there were also a few drifts that were 4-8" deep!
7 Snow getting deep_(1).JPG
8 Still feels like winter_(1).JPG
We started talking about whether we recognized this area and agreed, NO! Where were we and where did we not make the correct turn? We must have been talking instead of looking for trail signs at the junctions because we ended up going down a fire road instead of veering left toward the Perimeter trail! We ended up hitting the southern boundary of Silver Falls State Park! Note that the snow lessened when we got close to the gate but the road still had plenty of large patches on it!
9 Reached gate at southern border of park_(1).JPG
Lucky for us that this fire road (which they do designate as a trail) leads to the northern point of the Shellburg Falls trail system. All you need to do is cross the road from the gate and it leads directly south towards Shellburg Falls!

We ended up stopping for a snack at some stumps where we then turned around and headed back to the car.
10 Turned around at stumps on trail to Shellburg Falls_(1).JPG
There was a fair amount of mud on the trails and several areas where the stream flowed on the trail. However, it was very passable. I do recommend wearing waterproof boots on this hike though!

The map for our hike is shown below.
11 Smith Creek Cabins to Shellburg Falls Trail.JPG
Have a great hike!

pdxgene
Posts: 5073
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by pdxgene » March 31st, 2012, 9:36 pm

Would you happen to know how far of a hike it would be from Silver Falls to Shellburg Falls?
I've seen it on the map and it's one of those things I've thought about possibly doing some time but never really got much further than that.
Thanx!

User avatar
mileagemike25000
Posts: 475
Joined: February 8th, 2012, 7:40 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by mileagemike25000 » April 1st, 2012, 6:38 am

Hi Gene,

I can try to approximate the distance from the maps I have. I have detailed the map I have with the distances so you could see the overall trail. I didn't actually connect from the southern boundary of Silver Falls to the Shellburg trail northern most point I hiked previously but I guess this to be between .5 and 1 mile.
Shellburg Falls proximity to Silver Falls zoomed out.JPG
You can also see from the blowup where I hiked yesterday and where Shellburg Falls is located.
Shellburg Falls proximity to Silver Falls.JPG
And here is the map I have for the Shellburg Falls hike toward Silver Falls State Park.
Shellburg Falls toward Silver Falls.JPG
So from what I can see the hike from the Smith Creek Cabins to Shellburg falls is about 6.5-7 miles one way. Please remember that I didn't take the Upper Smith Creek Trail due to high water over the trail and this might save you 0.5 miles each way!

I hope this helps with making plans. Please note that I heard something a while back about closure of the trail between Silver Falls and Shellburg Falls but saw no signs of it. The short piece of trail we hiked was very nice (and padded), although we did do a bit of clearing on low hanging branches. Also, House Mountain Rd does appear to be driveable and we did see truck tracks in the snow, so it is an option to park and hike from the north! I definitely think it's worth a try and we plan to do it at some point in the future!

I hope this helps and have a great hike!

User avatar
Crusak
Posts: 3602
Joined: August 6th, 2009, 7:33 pm
Location: Hillsboro
Contact:

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by Crusak » April 1st, 2012, 8:04 am

Looks like quite an adventurous day. Thanks for sharing your trip! Weird, I've never been to Silver Falls State Park before. Someday I need to get down there! :)

Did you see anyone else out there hiking while you were on the trails?
Jim's Hikes

Solvitur Ambulando

User avatar
mileagemike25000
Posts: 475
Joined: February 8th, 2012, 7:40 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by mileagemike25000 » April 1st, 2012, 8:51 am

Silver Falls is definitely a very good and extensive trail system. There aren't as many actual trails as there are roads being called trails (at least in the backcountry). However, there aren't any waterfalls in the back country, but there is solitude with very few people. This is a sharp contrast from the waterfall loop which is terribly overcrowded, but also very beautiful. There are also a fairly large number of old growth trees, in the backcountry, that we really enjoy seeing!

Except for the Smith Creek Cabin and Campground area there was NOONE on the trail system.

I'd give it a try but don't set your expectations to high as it isn't Wilderness and there can be bikers!

User avatar
Crusak
Posts: 3602
Joined: August 6th, 2009, 7:33 pm
Location: Hillsboro
Contact:

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by Crusak » April 1st, 2012, 10:13 am

mileagemike25000 wrote:...There aren't as many actual trails as there are roads being called trails (at least in the backcountry). However, there aren't any waterfalls in the back country, but there is solitude with very few people. This is a sharp contrast from the waterfall loop which is terribly overcrowded, but also very beautiful. There are also a fairly large number of old growth trees, in the backcountry, that we really enjoy seeing!

I'd give it a try but don't set your expectations to high as it isn't Wilderness and there can be bikers!
Good to know. :) The bikers wouldn't bother me so much, I think. I enjoy being immersed in a forest just as much as mountain top views, so trudging through a forest with solitude and old growth trees sounds great. Gotta talk my girls into doing some camping at Silver Falls someday.
Jim's Hikes

Solvitur Ambulando

dennisfromsalem
Posts: 21
Joined: January 10th, 2012, 6:30 pm

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by dennisfromsalem » April 6th, 2012, 5:18 pm

Crusak wrote:
mileagemike25000 wrote:...There aren't as many actual trails as there are roads being called trails (at least in the backcountry). However, there aren't any waterfalls in the back country, but there is solitude with very few people. This is a sharp contrast from the waterfall loop which is terribly overcrowded, but also very beautiful. There are also a fairly large number of old growth trees, in the backcountry, that we really enjoy seeing!

I'd give it a try but don't set your expectations to high as it isn't Wilderness and there can be bikers!
Good to know. :) The bikers wouldn't bother me so much, I think. I enjoy being immersed in a forest just as much as mountain top views, so trudging through a forest with solitude and old growth trees sounds great. Gotta talk my girls into doing some camping at Silver Falls someday.
We went on new years day and did the falls loop. Not so many people, and it was a truly incredible experience due to the lack of foliage and the amount of water going over the falls. If you can get there off season or mid week its pretty amazing and not too many people.

User avatar
mileagemike25000
Posts: 475
Joined: February 8th, 2012, 7:40 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: 3/31/12 Silver Falls Backcountry Hike / Oops, Wrong Way!

Post by mileagemike25000 » April 6th, 2012, 9:03 pm

I do agree that going off season or on a holiday can be rewarding due to low turnout. I have been on the falls loop trail when it has been fairly sparse and it was much more gratifying! Also, going when there is no foliage gives much better views of the falls! There only seems to be a few times a year when you know a religious holiday or sports event will keep people from going outdoors. From my experience the backcountry has much less traffic since it doesn't have any waterfalls to draw crowds, but it is still quite beautiful and contains patches of old growth!

Post Reply