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August Mountain Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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Shellburg Falls (Steve Hart)
Lower Shellburg Falls (Steve Hart)
Fairy Slipper Orchid (Steve Hart)
A terrible, hand-drawn guess at where the trail goes


Hike Description

This is an interesting hike to three waterfalls with a lot of varied scenery in between. The hike starts at the new Shellburg Falls Trailhead. This is a brand new facility with parking for about six cars. Large groups are welcome, but they should probably carpool if possible.

The trail starts up a gated, closed road. There is private property on either side of the road here, and you won't get a wilderness feel. Instead, you'll be treated to a charming view that could be Oregon in 1930 or 1940. The gravel road passes through a cattle pastures, passes a distant sheep barn and a small tree farm. At one point, you'll likely share the trail with a herd of cattle. In my experience they've been very docile and friendly to hikers. At 8/10 of a mile, there's a small pond on the left, hosting the world's loudest frogs (or so they seemed to me). At 1 mile, you'll enter the Santiam State Forest. This is now public land and off-trail (off-road) bushwacking is permitted, if not easy.

At 1.2 miles, you'll come to a very interesting group of features. The road crosses Shellburg Creek on a short bridge. Immediately above the bridge, the Shellburg Falls Trail heads up to the left paralleling the stream to Shellburg Falls. Immediately below the bridge is Lower Shellburg Falls, a 40 foot, two tiered waterfall. The waterfall is somewhat difficult to see from above and a tree with a recently broken top isn't helping any. The better views are from below, but the only way to do that is a mad scramble down the steep bluff just east of the waterfall. This is doable by experienced bushwackers, but it's not recommended for kids or newcomers to hiking.

For this hike, continue east on the road. In a short distance, you'll come to a large "1 1/2 mile" marker spray painted on a tree. These mile markers are used by log trucks and they are called out on CB radios, allowing empty trucks to clear the roads for outgoing loads. Just before the marker is another mad scramble down the slope. It's reported that this is the access to the lower viewpoint of Stasel Falls. According to the reports, hikers can work their way down the steep slope to an abandoned road. Turning left on the road leads up the valley to near the base of the falls. Again this is a route only for experienced bushwackers.

A much simpler path, accessible to everyone, leads to the top of the Stasel Falls. Just passed (east) the 1 1/2 mile marker is an abandoned dirt road turning off to the right. Follow this road about 1/10 of a mile, stopping just before you enter a recent clearcut. There's a footpath branching off to the side here that leads to the top of Stasel Falls. The view here includes a freestanding rock pillar, the creek above the falls and a decent view into the canyon below.

From Stasel Falls, return to the main gravel road. Immediately across the road, you'll find an unmarked trail heading up through the forest. This trail climbs gently for about 2/10 of a mile to another crossing of the same road. Cross the road and head up the trail on the other side, which is the "August Mountain Trail". This trail continues the easy climb through a beautiful open, second growth forest. The forest floor here is covered in wood sorrel and trilliums. Look for Fairy Slipper Orchids, as well. The trail climbs for about a half mile and tops out at an abandoned road. The trail continues downhill on the old road for another half mile, where it crosses a couple of creeks on new bridges and comes to the end of the Shellburg Falls Campground Road, SB200. There's a trail junction here with the Shellburg Creek Trail and another brand new trail, that won't open until June 2007. Follow the road about 4/10 of a mile to the campground.

The Shellburg Falls Campground is closed in the winter, but opens in Mid May. There are public restrooms here, potable water, garbage collection, all of things we've come to expect at a campground. In the off-season, of course, it's all closed and accessible only to hikers.

At the campground, you'll see a side parking lot with an old hand water pump. This is the Upper Shellburg Falls Trailhead. Follow the Shellburg Falls Trail. In April '07, there was still a sign saying that a staircase was out of service, but the stairs have been repaired. The first part of this trail travels through a flat, wet area, filled with nurse logs, moss and skunk cabbage. There's a small bridge over a side creek and then a larger bridge over Shellburg Creek. In a short distance, you'll begin to hear the roar of Shellburg Falls. The trail heads down a rather steep, new staircase to the base of the falls, then it travels through a deep grotto behind the waterfall. A short, improved side trail leads through moss coated maples to the splash pool.

Beyond Shellburg Falls, you'll be heading home. Shellburg Falls Trail continues for a short distance until you 'round a corner and suddenly find yourself back at Lower Shellburg Falls. Hike back down the closed road through the cattle to your car.


  • Sky Island Graphics: Silver Falls State Park: Trail and Recreation Guide

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Access via private road: Stay on the road!

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L. Sullivan

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.

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