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|South Falls accented by autumn colors|
I recruited my friends, John and Young. Not having hiked together since July, it was great to see them. They're such good friends. Who else would be so
|John and Young are ready for the rain!|
Silver Falls State Park is one of Oregon's gems. It's located northeast of Salem, near the town of Silverton. A deep basalt canyon showcases ten magnificent waterfalls, five that are more than 100 feet high. The surrounding forests are a mix of Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Big leaf Maple. A wonderful trail leads hikers through the canyon past each waterfall, ducking behind a number of these gushing cascades.
My companions were prepared. They donned huge ponchos that not only covered their bodies, but were designed to go over backpacks too! They looked like a couple of hunchbacks - but John and Young didn't have to worry about wet gear. (Better than my makeshift Hefty-bag pack cover which immediately blew off in the parking lot)
Rain was falling steadily as my friends and I began climbing down the canyon. We hadn't gone far before we spied our first Kodak moment. Looking down from near the canyon's rim was a great vantage of South Falls, framed by beautiful yellow and orange foliage.
|South Falls peeks through the trees|
I'd lugged along my tripod for the occasion, and quickly unpacked my camera and set it up. To protect my photo equipment from the rain, I'd grabbed an umbrella. Yeah, I looked like a dork, hiking with an umbrella! But it came in quite handy, keeping everything covered and dry.
|Leaves litter the path|
Winding down the path to South Fall's base there was so much beauty to see! Mossy basalt cliffs, brilliant yellow and orange fall colors, neon green vegetation, and gushing water. Young and I made frequent stops to capture it all. South Falls itself was breathtaking - a tall 177 foot curtain of white. The changing leaf colors added much to an already lovely scene.
|Bright yellows accent the creek|
Young and I are kindred spirits. We both love taking pictures. And when we see something photo-worthy, neither one of us is shy about stopping in our tracks to capture it. With all this wonderful scenery, we kind of fed off each other. Progress down the trail was glacially slow. Poor John, he endured lots of waiting!
|Looking waay down to Lower South Falls|
Finally, tearing ourselves away from South Falls, Young and I meandered down a trail that paralleled the South Fork of Silver Creek. This creek was an absolute delight, with small rocky rapids, bright green foliage lining its shore, and mossy, Big leaf Maple branches draping over the banks. Lots of photo subjects here too!
|Our lunch spot view - not bad!|
Nearly a mile down the trail, we came upon waterfall number two, Lower South Falls. Our path switchbacked down into a deep canyon. Flowing off a huge basalt lip framed by more autumn-colored trees, Lower South was shorter and wider. But this cascade was just as pretty as her big sister.
|Young gets a waterfall close-up|
The cliff's overhang gave us a dry refuge from the heavy rain. And it provided a front-row vantage of the falls. Young, John and I decided this was a good place for lunch. Sitting on a rock ledge, enjoying our sandwiches, we all agreed the view was first class.
|Lower South Falls from the other side|
After filling our stomachs, our waterfall quest continued. We hiked through the mossy cavern behind Lower South Falls. Very cool! It's not often one gets to walk behind a waterfall. Lower South's 93-foot high wall of water roared beside us. An amazing show of nature's force.
|Leaves on a stump look artsy|
Beyond Lower South Falls, we again followed the creek. Our trail led through quiet forests sporting more bright yellow leaves. We crossed a footbridge spanning the North Fork of Silver Creek. At a junction were Lower North Falls (yeah, not very creative with the names here) and a short path to Double Falls.
|Soggy group photo|
Lower North Falls was a short 30-foot cascade and Double Falls was a thin wispy waterfall. I didn't get great shots of either one, so sorry no photos. I did attempt one group photo with my friends, soggy but still smiling.
|Middle North Fall's lacy cascade|
After passing tiny Drake Falls, I rounded a bend and spied my favorite waterfall in the park - Middle North Falls. This waterfall forms a delicate, lacy fan that is quite lovely.
|Middle North Falls|
Middle North is another waterfall you can walk behind. I like the views on the side opposite the main trail. Last time I was here, the trail behind this waterfall was roped off. But today, much to my delight, it was free and clear.
|Looking downriver from Middle North Falls|
The forest directly below Middle North Falls was especially scenic.
|Scattered riverbank leaves|
Beyond Middle North, the trail takes hikers another mile and a half to North Falls. However, the day was getting late, and the rain wasn't letting up. If anything, raindrops were coming down heavier now. My companions and I decided to head back to the trailhead by way of Winter Falls. On our return, we passed by the most beautiful fall color display. Orange and yellow leaves littered the creek's banks. Mossy colorful branches hung over its waters. A wonderful sight to behold, and a great way to end our hike.
John's GPS gave a total of 5 miles traveled. It also noted we'd been out for 6 hours, with only 2 of these hours spent moving. John couldn't help but tease Young and I for spending 4 hours taking pictures! Oh well, with such amazing scenery to photograph, there are some things that just can't be rushed.
A great day to be outside, despite the rain.