Salt Creek Falls


View from the viewpoint
View from the viewpoint

This easy to get to waterfall is the second highest in Oregon.  The path to see the falls is a short 256 feet from the parking lot.  But if you would enjoy a longer walk you can do a short half mile hike down to near the base of the waterfall.  The path does not go all the way to the base but if you are adventurous you can scramble down the loose slate rock to the plunge pool.  Salt Creek creates one of the most impressive waterfalls in Oregon as it hurdles 286 feet into a gaping canyon near Willamette Pass. The size of the falls isn’t terribly notable in the area, but rather the process by which the falls were formed. Glaciers scoured the valley out during the last Ice Age, then following their retreat, lava flows filled in a portion of the valley, creating the narrow canyon walls composed of columnar basalt that are now seen at the falls.

The trail to the falls is wheelchair assessable
The trail to the falls is wheelchair assessable

Salt Creek Falls was discovered by Anglos Frank S. Warner and Charles Tufti, his guide, in March of 1887. Salt Creek is named after a series of springs with a high salt content, which is often used as salt licks by wildlife. The falls were named for the creek. Though the falls are located within relatively close proximity to Eugene, this area was more or less wilderness for quite some time. The original viewpoint of the falls was from a pullout along the old Willamette Pass Road, directly across the canyon from the falls,  You can still look at the falls from that perspective, but there is nowhere to park, so you have to walk along the road from the current viewing area.  But if you want to go that way you might as well walk to the base of the falls.  Walking the highway there is dangerous due to many people not expecting to see pedestrians in the area.

Two of my travel companions.
Two of my travel companions.

Located west of Willamette Pass, just off of Highway 58. The Salt Creek Falls day use area is located 21 miles east of Oakridge, or 5 miles west of Willamette Pass. The parking lot is well signed from the main road, and eastern travelers will undoubtedly see the falls through the trees before reaching the turnoff. The first viewpoints are handicap accessible, with the trail to the base being easy, but with numerous stairs.  There is a $5 per day fee to park at the viewpoint or have a Northwest forest pass to use (currently $30 per year as of 2013)

View from the halfway mark  as you head down towards the plunge pool
View from the halfway mark as you head down towards the plunge pool
how the falls were created
How the falls were created

View looking down from the base as the creek travels through the canyon
View looking down from the base as the creek travels through the canyon