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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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