Silver Falls State Park located less than an hour from Salem, Oregon is one of Oregon’s most popular state parks, and it offers you the chance to view and hike behind some of Oregon’s most beautiful waterfalls, and it is home to the 7.2 mile hike known as the “Trail of Ten Falls” hike. Another popular hike is the South Falls and Lower South Falls loop hike which is the hike we will feature here.

So if you looking for a beautiful hike that will let you view several waterfalls grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydro Flask, check out some hiking tips, and get ready for a beautiful hike!

Silver Falls State park is a very unique and beautiful place, and as the official Silver Falls State Park website says:

“People call it the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system, and once you visit, you know why. Silver Falls State Park is the kind of standout scenic treasure that puts Oregon firmly onto the national—and international—stage. Its beauty, boundless recreational opportunities and historic presence keep it there. Nestled in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, less than an hour east of the state capital of Salem, the sprawling 9,200 acre property is the largest state park in Oregon, and one of the most popular.”

To get to Silver Falls State Park from Bend, Oregon check out the directions below. To get there from Bend it is about a 2 1/2 hour drive, so this isn’t a quick day hike. However if you have a day off it is worth the trip.

For this hike, start at the South Falls Lodge Trailhead in parking lot A and follow the signs for the Trail of Ten Falls hike  and go past the lodge and the Silver Falls Nature Store to the to the South Falls viewpoint. From the viewpoint you will take the paved trail downhill to the junction and go to the left and hike behind the South Falls. If you want after hiking under the falls you can cross the bridge and go back up to the parking area, but for this hike you want to stay to the left and not cross the bridge after South Falls.

South Falls and Lower South Falls loop trail gallery

View photo gallery of the South Falls and Lower South Falls loop hike at Silver Falls State Park.

At this point you will follow the trail past beautiful lush almost rain forest vegetation, and you will most likely see a lot of different species of birds, perhaps a chipmunk or two as well. After a while the trail will head down into the canyon a bit and you will see Lower South Falls and walk behind it as well. On the day we went I had no problems protecting my camera at South Falls, but Lower South Falls required me to cover my camera with a plastic bag for about 20 feet, so keep that in mind if you plan on taking your camera on this hike.

After Lower South Falls you will come to a junction that would allow you to continue on the Trail of Ten Falls, however for this hike you will turn right onto the Maple Ridge Trail and take back to the parking area. The trek up the Maple Ridge Trail is kind of steep, especially for older folks like me, and those who are not in real good shape. Of course the younger folks won’t have much trouble, and we even saw one girl running this loop trail, and she passed us two different times while we were making the full loop.

While hiking in this area we noticed most folks were enjoying the outdoors in a respectful manner, however we did see trash along the trail, so please remember to pack it out and Leave No Trace as there are not trash cans along the trail. Also, be considerate and use your “indoor” voices and please don’t talk real loud as we observed a few doing, most people are there to enjoy nature and not hear about your recent breakup or in some cases worse, please keep your voices down. Also, if you want to listen to music please use earbuds, while you think your music is cool, most people will not want to hear it on the trail.

Please follow the rules for pets

Here is some info for pet owners from the Silver Falls Website:

“Silver Falls State Park welcomes visitors and their pets to most areas of the park. However; for the safety of you and other hikers, pets are not allowed on the Canyon Trail or on the connecting trails of Winter Trail, Maple Ridge Trail and Twin Falls Trail.

Throughout other areas of the park pets are required to be on a leash and of no more than six feet in length. A pet exercise/off leash area is located in South Falls Day Use Area for pets to run while under voice control.”

We did observe two girls hiking with their dog in an area that dogs are not allowed, so please keep that in mind and follow the rules.

Wildlife at Silver Falls State Park

The Silver Falls State Park Website says this about the wildlife you may encounter:

“Silver Falls is home to many species of wildlife, including black bear and cougars. If you come across an animal, do not approach it. You can learn more about what to do if you encounter bears and cougars by picking up a pamphlet from any day use booth. Please report any sighting to the first available park ranger.”

Directions to the park:

From Bend:

You will take Highway 20 towards Sisters and follow it until it branches off for Highway 22 to the right, the signs will say Salem and Detroit. After passing Detroit Lake you will get about 12 miles from Salem and you will see the sign directing you to Silver Falls State Park. you will exit to the right and turn right at the stop sign and travel about 16 miles to the park entrance sign at South Falls. For this hike, start at the South Falls Lodge Trailhead in parking lot A and follow the signs to the South Falls viewpoint and the Trail of Ten Falls hike.

From Portland or Salem:

From Interstate 5 exit 253 in Salem, drive 10 miles east on North Santiam Highway 22, turn left at a sign for Silver Falls Park, and follow Highway 214 for 16 miles to the park entrance sign at South Falls.

Coming from the north, exit Interstate 5 at Woodburn and follow Highway 214 southeast through Silverton 30 miles.

In the South Falls parking complex, follow signs to Picnic Area C, and park at the far end of the lot.

Season: Open all year. The park is usually snow-free even in mid-winter (obviously you will have to check into the current conditions before going), but the falls are still quite full and the wildflowers are at their best from late March to May.

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Map of the South Falls and Lower South Falls loop hike

Below is a GPS map of a recent hike at Silver Falls State park.