Salt Creek Falls

Willamette National Forest / Oakridge / Lane County, Oregon, USA

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1.5
Salt Creek Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

Salt Creek Falls was definitely one of the more impressive waterfalls we've seen in Oregon. We could tell that it was very popular because it was so easily accessible in addition to its impressive height and flow. Each time that we've been to this falls - once in late August 2009 and another time in mid-July 2016, the falls flowed nicely, which led me to conclude that the falls must have good flow all year. To put some numbers behind our impressions of the falls, it was said to have a plunge of around 286ft causing some to proclaim this to be Oregon's second tallest waterfall (a disputable claim I'm sure unless you only count vertical drop waterfalls in the state). It kind of reminded us of some of the many other plunge waterfalls that we encountered in the Columbia River Gorge such as Latourell Falls and Elowah Falls among others. Perhaps the main reason for this association was the presence of basalt columns suggesting that the area was once filled by lava then covered in glaciers that sheared off the hard basalt layers exposing it to the elements and ultimately resulting in tall plunge waterfalls like this one.

Visiting Salt Creek Falls was pretty much a breeze as there was a short walk leading from the well-signed and well-established parking area (see directions below) to cliff-top overlooks offering us a vertigo-inducing top down look at the impressive drop of the falls as well as the nearly vertical gorge carved out by Salt Creek. They seemed to have erected very tall railings to make it difficult for more careless types to plunge over the edge of these overlooks, but such railings also made it a little tricky to take good photos of the waterfall without the infrastructure getting in the way.

It didn't take long to experience the falls and read the interpretive signs at the Salt Creek Falls overlooks, but we also observed that it was possible to hike to lower vantage points closer to the base of the waterfall. This trail resumed further away from the falls alongside the end of the railings where the trail then meandered into a dry gully closer to Hwy 58 before turning back towards the open gorge. Further down the sloping trail, there were steps as well as more switchbacks eventually bringing us to about the middle point of the overall descent. Then, we encountered a warning sign saying that a rock slide had obliterated the remainder of the trail that would have led us all the way down to the base, and that continuing past the rock slide was not recommended. So we were content to enjoy the more direct view of Salt Creek Falls from this rock slide area, and it allowed us to more closely examine the pronounced basalt cliffs flanking the waterfall and the trail. In a way, it was almost like the repeating theme of fire and ice mixing together, which we had seen lots of examples of throughout the world, especially Iceland.

We did notice other people continue the steep scramble all the way down to the base of the waterfall, but from where we were standing, the rock slide portion looked quite steep. So it was one of those risk-reward things where if getting all the way down there would be perceived to be worth it, then you might take the risk. I'm sure people who have made it all the way down there would say it's worth it, but steep scrambles like this (when we were already getting satisfactory views of the falls even up to this point) didn't seem very necessary to us. So we headed back. It took Mom and I about roughly 40 minutes to do this hike, but the difficulty rating at the top of this page didn't reflect this part of the excursion since I felt this was a very optional way to experience Salt Creek Falls.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

Direct look at Salt Creek Falls from the end of the short trail to the lower viewing areaDirect look at Salt Creek Falls from the end of the short trail to the lower viewing area
We stopped by Salt Creek Falls on the way to the beautiful Crater Lake National ParkWe stopped by Salt Creek Falls on the way to the beautiful Crater Lake National Park, which was the main reason for us to come this far south in the state of Oregon
As you can see, there were lots of different ways to see Crater Lake, including this view of a rock protrusion called the Phantom ShipAs you can see, there were lots of different ways to see Crater Lake, including this view of a rock protrusion called the Phantom Ship
Since Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek Falls shared the same parking lot, it was well-worth the effort to extend the visit and do the loop hike to take in this very different waterfallSince Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek Falls shared the same parking lot, it was well-worth the effort to extend the visit and do the loop hike to take in this very different waterfall
People gathered around this self-help kiosk where we could have paid $5 in an envelope and keep the proof of purchase to display on the dash of the car (though we were actually in possession of an interagency National Forest Adventure Pass at the time)People gathered around this self-help kiosk where we could have paid $5 in an envelope and keep the proof of purchase to display on the dash of the car (though we were actually in possession of an interagency National Forest Adventure Pass at the time)

Cliffhugging viewpointsCliffhugging viewpoints

Looking downstream from the cliffs towards the surrounding forest where even an early afternoon rainbow was appearing from the mist of Salt Creek FallsLooking downstream from the cliffs towards the surrounding forest where even an early afternoon rainbow was appearing from the mist of the falls

Looking back towards the overlooks closer to the profile of Salt Creek FallsLooking back towards the overlooks closer to the profile of the falls

Looking down past a cliff towards Salt Creek FallsLooking down past a cliff towards the falls

Looking further downstream towards what appeared to be a volcano that might have blown its top in its pastLooking further downstream towards what appeared to be a volcano that might have blown its top in its past

Mom continuing to hike past the cliffside overlooks in search of the trail leading closer to the base of Salt Creek FallsMom continuing to hike past the cliffside overlooks in search of the trail leading closer to the base of the falls

Mom continuing down the descending trail leading closer to the base of Salt Creek FallsMom continuing down the descending trail leading closer to the base of the falls

Julie at the lower viewpoint of Salt Creek FallsJulie at the lower viewpoint of the falls

Here's another look at Salt Creek Falls from the rock slide taken some 7 years later, where one lady scrambled down the rockslide towards the base of the tree stump down belowHere's another look at the falls from the rock slide taken some 7 years later, where one lady scrambled down the rockslide towards the base of the tree stump down below

A closer examination of the pronounced basalt cliffs flanking Salt Creek FallsA closer examination of the pronounced basalt cliffs flanking the falls

Our last look at Salt Creek Falls from the clifftop overlooks before heading back to the carOur last look at Salt Creek Falls from the clifftop overlooks before heading back to the car


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Sweep panning around the Salt Creek Falls and downstream view from the upper overlooks along the cliff


360 degree sweep of the Salt Creek Falls and surrounding area including the rock slide aftermath itself


Long sweep of the top down view of Salt Creek Falls from a few different spots along the clifftop area


Top down sweep of the falls and then the sweep continues downstream and ends at neighboring mountain range (shot in August 2009)


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The nearest big town to Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek Falls would probably be Eugene. The town of Oakridge (36 miles southeast of Eugene) was probably the closest smaller town. The drive from Eugene via Oakridge was very straightforward as it would be 58 miles drive from the I-5/Hwy 58 junction just south of Eugene. The well-signed turnoff was on the right side shortly after leaving the tunnel.

Alternately, we also made the long drive to this waterfall from Medford, which was probably the closest big city to Crater Lake National Park. In going this route from the I-5/Hwy 62 exit in Medford, we took the Crater Lake Hwy (Hwy 62) for roughly 54 miles to a signed junction. Instead of turning right to continue on Hwy 62 towards Crater Lake, we kept left to go onto Hwy 230, which then continued for almost 24 miles to a junction with the Hwy 138. Turning right at this junction to remain on Hwy 230, we then stayed on it for another 18 miles (ignoring the Hwy 232 route going to the north rim of Crater Lake) before turning left onto US97.

We then took US97 north for roughly 17 miles (passing through the town of Chemult [one of the few places to get gas in this pretty remote part of Southern Oregon]) before heading northwest on Hwy 58. We then drove roughly 31 miles on Hwy 58 (passing by the attractive Odell Lake en route) before finally arriving at the turnoff for the Salt Creek Falls parking lot on the left. Overall, this drive from Medford to Salt Creek Falls took us about 3 hours.

This parking area had a pay-and-display system costing $5 per vehicle. Since this was in the Willamette National Forest, we utilized our interagency National Forest Adventure Pass ($35 for the year) and displayed that on our dash to avoid getting fined by the forest service.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Two spectacular falls (Salt Creek & Lower Diamond) 
This is a spectacular fall but I found that diamond falls both the upper and lower views just as spectacular. Diamond falls is a bit of a hike in. …

Click here to write your own.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Oregon Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Pacific Northwest Page]


[Return from Salt Creek Falls to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]