This is a little jewel we stumbled upon by pure chance. Having run out of things to do in Bend (which happens rather quickly when hiking and biking are not among your family’s top priorities), we decided to push on to Eugene and check out the university in the morning. This also happened to be my mom and dad’s (typically OVER-planners) first attempt at “winging it” without reservations anywhere. What they didn’t account for, was the likelihood of a Ducks football game, the Eugene Marathon and a tattoo convention all falling on the same day–which turned out to be pretty damn likely. Every singly hotel, motel and bed & breakfast in Eugene, Springfield and all nearby cities was completely booked. After sitting in a TGIFridays parking lot for thirty minutes and getting laughed at by every hotel we called, we decided to push on (again) and wound up in Salem. By now, the four of us had been in the car for five hours and, as a result, were no longer on speaking terms. While my brother tried to convince a friend to drive the hour and a half from Portland to “save him,” I grabbed a stack of cheesy brochures from a rack in the hotel lobby, determined to find something to do the next day. When antiques, tulips, butterflies and an “authentic” African safari (yes…in Salem, OR…who knew?!) failed to entice me, I spotted a picture of a beautiful waterfall–the caption described it s “one of the ten spectacular waterfalls on the 9-mile hike through Silver Falls State Park”–and it was only twenty minutes outside Salem!
The next morning we drove a very pleasant 20 minutes through rolling green hills and seas of Christmas tree farms. We’d left early enough to beat the rush and were rewarded for our efforts. Silver Falls State Park’s Canyon Trail is a spectacular 8-mile hike that takes you past and behind ten incredible waterfalls. This was the first state park built in Oregon, which explain why the trails cut MUCH closer to the waterfalls than it would in more recently-established parks. For the incredible views, the hike is fairly effortless, with mostly long flat stretches along canyon floor and high ridges, with old stone steps making an easy transition in between. And dogs are allowed! By the time we emerged a few hours later, the parking lot was FILLED with tourists–but most of us were in a better mood by then and it didn’t matter at all. There is an abundance of various wildflowers and the changing light conditions characteristic of a canyon and the endless waterfalls gave me an opportunity to play with different light settings. Unfortunately, the endless stream of waterfalls caused some to blur together in the mind’s eye. Nonetheless, Silver Falls State Park is a MUST-SEE if you are going to be in the area.