Fall in Oregon is a great time to get out and explore. The places to go is enormous and limited only by your willingness to get out into nature. With the start of some fall rains we decided this weekends adventure should be to a waterfall. Located between Lebanon and Sweet home McDowell falls is close and has multiple falls to explore. This area, due to it’s close proximity to the valley and local towns does get a high amount of traffic. Almost every small stream on the west slope of the cascades has some fish to catch. As is most streams in the area it is catch and release only in McDowell creek and restricted to fly’s and lures. Which is not really much of an issue when it comes to catching fish in these small streams. For more information on streams and lakes please check out the fishing in Oregon book. Lots of information on what lives in each water body.
Directions: From Eugene drive north on I-5 and then take the exit to Hwy. 20 east towards Lebanon. Once you have driven through the town of Lebanon continue 4 miles, and then turn left at the McDowell Creek Park exit. Follow this road for 10 miles then turn right into the parking lot. The parking lot is big enough for about 15 cars and tends to be full on nice days.
This is a very easy hike and the entire loop is almost two miles in length. Dogs are welcome but must stay on a leash. If you hike up the stairs to the top of Terrace falls it does get a bit steep. But there are plenty of spots to stop and rest on the way up.
The fishing in the stream is actually fairly good. There is very little pressure on the stream, and the native cutthroats are feisty. During summer amid the low water flow most of the fish can only be found in the numerous pools in the stream. Most areas have been worn down to bedrock and the pools tend to be deep trough’s with undercuts for the fish to hide. The lower section of the stream where it approaches the Santiam river are private property, but the upper area goes through several sections of public lands. The largest trout I caught on our trip was only about eight inches. Small fish, but fun to catch on an ultralight pole and reel.
To see a video of the fishing and parts of the hike please visit our YouTube channel at the link below.
Several great books for the local areas
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