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Posts Tagged ‘Pacific NW scenic attractions’

tumalo falls, oregon, in Deschutes National ForestOn most hikes, your reward comes at the end–a fabulous mountaintop view, amazing waterfall, whatever. At Tumalo Falls, you get dessert first. I’ve hardly started up the trail when wham, I’m staring at a thundering fall of water that drops 97 feet (or 131 feet, depending on who’s doing the measuring) into Tumalo Creek. It roars and glitters in the afternoon sun, an impressive sight. This is just 12 miles northwest of Bend, in the central Oregon Cascades.

Some people never go further than the viewpoint. But we’re ready for a hike, and the black lab, Teva, is more than ready. dog Teva, black lab, at Tumalo FallsStop staring at the scenery and let’s go! she barks, tugging at the leash, eager to be on the move.  So off we go, zigzagging up the hill on a forest trail. Tumalo Falls is just the beginning to a beautiful climb past pine and hemlock trees, red-barked manzanita, and wildflowers. We’re breathing pine-scented air and a few smoky wisps from distant forest fires.

This area of Deschutes National Forest was burned in a fire in 1979, but now, except for some dead snags, it’s green again. The stream gurgles along as always, with riffles and falls splashing over the rocks, on its way toward the long waterfall that is now behind us. Other hikers, not many, are out on this summer day, and a few mountain bikers puffing their way up the sometimes-steep grade. They’re allowed to pedal up, not down (connecting trails loop back). Just watching them tires me out.

A short walk takes us to an overlook at the top of Tumalo Falls, where we’re mesmerized by the curtain of spraying white water. Gazing is brief, with Teva bouncy again, and we continue for another mile-plus before turning back. Another day when we have more time we’ll go further, to Happy Valley.  A future hike, Teva agrees.

There’s a $5 day-use permit, unless you have a forest service pass. Dogs should be leashed or under tight control. There are well-maintained toilets near the smallish parking lot, and a picnic area.

Next on the agenda this time is a stop at The Sparrow Bakery for Ocean Rolls, lemon tart, Sparrow Bakery, Bend, Oregonalmond croissants, and a take-home lemon tart for dessert. Sparrow, also a deli, is one of Bend’s great assets, serving delectable sweets and savories to a constant stream of customers.

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When it rains day after day in western Oregon, everybody complains. We’re not fish, we’re tired of living in an aquarium. Then you take a trip to Silver Falls State Park, where all that water has made the falls even more dramatic, and all you can do is South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregongaze in wonder and forgive the rain gods for their deluges.

If the Trail of Ten Falls were anywhere except Oregon, where gorgeous scenery is taken for granted, it would be high on the list of world-famed must-sees. Silver Creek Canyon and its waterfalls, lush greenery, and tall firs and cedars, is spectacular. I know I’m gushing as much as the falls are, but this is a place worth gushing over. I’m not the only one; it can get crowded here in summer.

The sun is shining, for a change, when we arrive at Oregon’s largest state park, a 1.5 hour’s drive south from Portland. We pay an entrance fee, park the car, and hike the trail down into the canyon, where we’re immediately mesmerized by South Falls, thundering 184 feet over the cliff to Silver Creek. Then we walk behind the falls, where the trail widens, and look out through the cascade at the wavery forest.

The park’s foundation began 15 million years ago with lava flows that hardened into basalt. That was topped by 1500 feet of volcanic ash and debris, and water did the rest, gradually eating away soil and rock and creating a steep canyon and stream with waterfalls.

waterfall, Silver FAlls State Park, OregonThe trail continues from South Falls on to Lower South Falls, Double Falls, Drake, Middle North, and Winter Falls, every one of them a roaring plunge into the stream. It’s a loop trip that takes about 3 hours, with stops to dabble our fingers in the cold water and picnic beside a log bridge. We could take the full loop that goes to Twin, North, and Upper North Falls, but that’s almost 7 miles, more than we have time for, so we cut back on the trail through the forest and ferns to the South Falls parking area.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built the foot trail, part of it stairs and bridges, in the South Falls Lodge, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon1930s. In the ’40s they constructed a stone and wood lodge. There are picnic tables and benches scattered throughout the grassy upper level, and clean restrooms and camping areas. Also a nice little gift shop in a log cabin that looks like a movie version of a pioneer homestead.  No bikes and no dogs are allowed on the trail.

If you’ve been to Silver Falls, what part do you like the most? Don’t you think it’s one of the marvels of the Pacific Northwest?

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