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South Falls

Silver Falls State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of Oregon, located near Silverton, about 20 miles (32 km) east-southeast of Salem. It is the largest state park in Oregon with an area of more than 9,000 acres (36 km2), and it includes more than 24 miles (39 km) of walking trails, 14 miles (23 km) of horse trails, and a 4-mile (6.4 km) bike path. Its 8.7-mile (14.0 km) Canyon Trail/Trail of Ten Falls runs along the banks of Silver Creek and by ten waterfalls, from which the park received its name. Four of the ten falls have an amphitheater-like surrounding that allows the trail to pass behind the flow of the falls.[1] The Silver Falls State Park Concession Building Area and the Silver Creek Youth Camp-Silver Falls State Park are separately listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The park's most visited waterfall is South Falls, a 177-foot (54 m) cascade.[2] Remote Double Falls, however, is listed as the highest waterfall in the park, plunging 178 feet (54 m) in a small tributary side canyon deep within the Silver Creek Canyon.



Silver Falls State Park Concession Building Area
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. Historic District
Silver Falls Lodge
Nearest city: Sublimity, Oregon
Built/Founded: 1934
Architect: Isted, J. Elwood
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: June 30, 1983
NRHP Reference#: 83002164[3]
Silver Creek Youth Camp – Silver Falls State Park
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. Historic District
Nearest city: Sublimity, Oregon
Coordinates: 44°51′23″N 122°36′31″W / 44.85639°N 122.60861°W / 44.85639; -122.60861Coordinates: 44°51′23″N 122°36′31″W / 44.85639°N 122.60861°W / 44.85639; -122.60861
Built/Founded: 1936
Architect: Maquire, Keith Maguire;
Architectural style(s): NPS Rustic
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: June 20, 2002
NRHP Reference#: 02000673[3]

Silver Falls City formed in 1888 and was primarily a logging community with a few homesteaders, and the area was extensively logged. By 1900 a Silverton photographer, June Drake, began to campaign for park status, using his photographs of the falls to gain support. In 1926, however, an inspector for the National Park Service rejected the area for park status because of a proliferation of unattractive stumps.

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that the Silver Falls area would be turned into a Recreational Demonstration Area. Private land that had been logged was purchased, and workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps were employed to develop park facilities, including the historic South Falls Lodge, completed in the late 1930s. It was used as a restaurant from 1946 until the late 1950s and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Silver Falls State Park Concession Building Area in 1983.[4] The Silver Creek Youth Camp—Silver Falls State Park was also added to the National Register at this time.

In January 2008, during the the 2008 supplemental legislative session, Fred Girod of the Oregon House of Representatives sought federal designation of the area as a national park via a house joint memorial to the United States Congress, but the bill died in committee.[5][6][7]


The history of the canyon's formation begins about 26 million years ago to the Oligocene period, when most of Oregon was covered by ocean. After the waters of the ocean receded about 15 million years ago, the flood basalt flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group covered the sandstone that had been the ocean floor. The softer layers of sandstone beneath the basalt sheet eroded over time, creating pathways behind some of the waterfalls which Civilian Conservation Corps workers widened to make safe for public use. Another geologic feature are many tree "chimneys" or casts, formed when hot lava engulfed living trees and disintegrated them.[8]


Both the North and South Forks of Silver Creek and the mainstem are often overlooked fishing waters for small native cutthroat trout. Most trout in both forks run quite small with the average catch usually in the 5-9 inch range. A large fish in these waters runs 12 inches though on rare occasion a larger fish will show up. The confluence of the forks is deep in the canyon and not accessible by trail. However for the adventurous angler there are good opportunities for slightly larger trout than inhabit the forks above. The best stretches to fish are the creek below the confluence and the North Fork as it generally carries more water. The best time to fish is usually the first few weeks after the season opens in late May and then again after the first fall rains usually in September. You will not likely catch large fish at Silver Creek Falls, but with a little hard work and some wading there are plenty of fish to be caught adding yet another dimension to this dynamic park.


The Trail of Ten Falls passes ten waterfalls on the North and South forks of Silver Creek or on one of the tributaries; five additional falls are below the confluence but still within the Park boundaries. [9]

Distance on trail Waterfall Stream Height
0.0 South South Fork 177 feet (54 m)
0.8 Lower South South Fork  93 feet (28 m)
1.1 Silver Creek (Confluence of N. & S. Forks)
2.1 Lower North North Fork  30 feet (9.1 m)
2.1 + 0.1 Double Hullt Creek 178 feet (54 m)
2.3 Drake North Fork  27 feet (8.2 m)
2.5 Middle North North Fork 106 feet (32 m)
2.7 + 0.5 Winter Winter Creek 134 feet (41 m)
3.0 Twin North Fork  31 feet (9.4 m)
3.9 North North Fork 136 feet (41 m)
4.6 Upper North North Fork  65 feet (20 m)
Distance below confluence Waterfall Stream Height
 ? Crag Silver Creek 12 feet (3.7 m)
 ? Elbow Silver Creek 20 feet (6.1 m)
 ? Canyon Silver Creek 10 feet (3.0 m)
 ? Lisp Silver Creek  5 feet (1.5 m)
 ? Sunlight Silver Creek  5 feet (1.5 m)

The Friends of Silver Falls

Volunteers inspired by the beauty and history of Silver Falls have been active there since establishment of the park in 1933. In 1986, the citizens and the park staff envisioned a mission and established the Friends of Silver Falls State Park, Inc. That mission is "to further the educational and interpretive opportunities available to park visitors; to promote the preservation, protection and enhancement of the historical, natural, and recreational resources within the park; and to assist in the implementing park improvements and educational programs compatible with the nature of Silver Falls State Park."[10]

As a result, this private and public partnership has created a more meaningful park experience for the nearly one million annual visitors to the park, far beyond what state park funding alone can provide.[10]

Since 1992, volunteers of the Friends of Silver Falls State Park have operated the Nature Store in historic South Falls Lodge. This store offers a variety of books, clothing and souvenirs in keeping with the park's nature theme. The organization has also been responsible for much of the interpretive signage along the Trail of Ten Falls.[10]

Other goals of the Friends include compiling oral histories from those who have memories of the park region, keeping alive the history of Silver Falls City, recognizing the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and 1940s, maintaining the park's historic district, and continuing to place interpretive signs throughout the park's more than 9,000 acres.[10]


  1. ^ "Silver Falls State Park". Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Retrieved September 1, 2007.  
  2. ^ "Recreation in Salem Oregon". Salem, Oregon Convention & Visitors Association. Retrieved January 28, 2007.  
  3. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.  
  4. ^ "Oregon Hikes - Silver Falls". Retrieved September 1, 2007.  
  5. ^ "House Joint Memorial 101". Oregon Legislative Assembly. 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2008.  
  6. ^ "House Bills". Oregon Legislative Assembly. 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2008.  
  7. ^ Ruttan, Denise (December 31, 2008). "Top stories: Election, development make news". The Stayton Mail (Statesman-Journal). Retrieved December 31, 2008.  
  8. ^ "Silver Falls Trailmap". Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Retrieved September 1, 2007.  
  9. ^ Freed, Michael (January 1979). "Silver Falls State Park" (PDF). Oregon Geology (Portland: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries) 41 (1): 3–10. Retrieved April 19, 2009.  
  10. ^ a b c d "Friends of Silver Falls". Retrieved December 30, 2008.  

External links

Coordinates: 44°52′36″N 122°38′53″W / 44.876667°N 122.64805°W / 44.876667; -122.64805



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