Diamond Creek Falls

Willamette National Forest / Oakridge, Oregon, USA

About Diamond Creek Falls


Hiking Distance: 4 miles loop
Suggested Time: 2-2.5 hours

Date first visited: 2016-07-14
Date last visited: 2016-07-14

Waterfall Latitude: 43.6073
Waterfall Longitude: -122.14389

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Diamond Creek Falls was a another one of those waterfalls that we eagerly anticipated visiting in Southern Oregon.

It featured a fan-shaped cascade of 70-90ft in height that ended up almost as wide as it was tall at its base.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_117_07142016 - Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond Creek Falls

While we had to earn our visit to this waterfall, we got to experience the presence of interesting features of the region’s volcanic legacy as well as the Lower Diamond Creek Falls.

By the way, the trailhead for this waterfall was also shared with the impressive Salt Creek Falls so it made sense to combine these waterfalls on a visit.

Indeed, many of the attractions in and around the Crater Lake National Park vicinity could be experienced conveniently, but Diamond Creek Falls allowed us to better acquaint ourselves with the Nature on offer here.

And that made this excursion all the more worthwhile.

Experiencing Diamond Creek Falls

Diamond_Creek_Falls_107_07142016 - Direct look at the Diamond Creek Falls from its base
Direct look at the Diamond Creek Falls from its base

Like with our experience at Toketee Falls, we had to for wait seven years after our first opportunity to see it in August 2009.

Back then, we were also turned back by a trail closure stemming from powerful storms that had caused damage to the bridge at its start.

The trail to Diamond Creek Falls involved hiking a four-mile loop.

In this case, I don’t think it mattered so much which direction we hiked this loop, but we ended up doing it in a counterclockwise fashion.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_133_07142016 - Contextual look at the Diamond Creek Falls from an overlook along the looping Diamond Creek Trail
Contextual look at the Diamond Creek Falls from an overlook along the looping Diamond Creek Trail

While we had to earn our visit to the falls with this moderate hike, we only encountered a handful of people throughout the experience, which contrasted mightily from our experiences at the convenient Salt Creek Falls.

Just to give you a sense of the logistics, we wound up spending about 2.5 hours on the Diamond Creek Trail.

Most of the hike was well-shaded given that it was within an extensive old growth forest.

The Diamond Creek Falls Trail Description – from the Trailhead to the Lower Diamond Creek Falls

From the opposite end of the Salt Creek Falls parking area (see directions below), a sign pointed the way to Diamond Creek Falls.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_008_07142016 - Mom and Dad crossing the long footbridge over Salt Creek to begin the Diamond Creek Falls Loop. This bridge was damaged when Julie and I first attempted this hike back in August 2009
Mom and Dad crossing the long footbridge over Salt Creek to begin the Diamond Creek Falls Loop. This bridge was damaged when Julie and I first attempted this hike back in August 2009

It followed a well-forested section on a broad trail before reaching a long footbridge over Salt Creek.

There was also an alternate direct trail reaching the bridge skirting alongside Salt Creek from the Salt Creek Falls as well.

After crossing the long footbridge (this was the storm-damaged bridge that turned us back in August 2009), we found ourselves in a densely forested and well-shaded area.

We immediately started to follow blue diamond markers placed on tree barks to mark the way.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_011_07142016 - Mom in the forested stretch beyond the long footbridge over Salt Creek as we followed the blue diamonds along the Diamond Creek Trail
Mom in the forested stretch beyond the long footbridge over Salt Creek as we followed the blue diamonds along the Diamond Creek Trail

After a couple of minutes, we then reached a trail junction marking the start and end of the loop hike encompassing all of the Diamond Creek Trail.

We opted to keep right and do this loop in a counterclockwise manner thinking that we’d be facing the waterfalls by the time we’d be skirting Diamond Creek.

As we did this, the trail briefly climbed out of the dense tree cover as it eventually reached what appeared to be an old lava field.

At a bluff, we were able to look down at the Hwy 58 as well as some neighboring peaks of volcanic origin as well as the continuation of Salt Creek way down below.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_028_07142016 - Looking towards Too Much Bear Lake while hiking the Diamond Creek Trail counterclockwise to the Diamond Creek Falls
Looking towards Too Much Bear Lake while hiking the Diamond Creek Trail counterclockwise to the Diamond Creek Falls

Then, we continued the hike which started to descend somewhat as we passed a spur path that led down to the left towards a small lake that was said to be called “Too Much Bear Lake” according to my map.

The trail continued to skirt around the northwest shores of Too Much Bear Lake providing partial glimpses of it before the trail veered away to the west for good.

Next, the trail meandered alongside some interesting rocks before it started to veer back towards the rim of the gorge carved out by Diamond Creek.

At roughly 30 minutes from the footbridge at the start of the trail, we reached a signposted junction for a vista point.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_048_07142016 - Obstructed view of the Lower Diamond Creek Falls from the vista point
Obstructed view of the Lower Diamond Creek Falls from the vista point

Taking the short spur trail to the vista point yielded perhaps our best look at the Lower Diamond Creek Falls.

That said, the view was adversely impacted by the presence of foliage blocking much of the view thereby making it not very photogenic.

It was a shame that the view was so poor because it appeared to be a very tall and impressive waterfall that could have easily been a signature attraction of this trail in and of itself.

The Diamond Creek Falls Trail Description – from the Lower Diamond Creek Falls to the Upper Diamond Creek Falls

Continuing on the loop trail, it would continue skirting the gorge carved out by Diamond Creek yielding other obstructed partial views of the Lower Diamond Creek Falls.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_074_07142016 - The Diamond Creek Trail climbing beyond the spur to the vista point as we continued our counterclockwise loop hike
The Diamond Creek Trail climbing beyond the spur to the vista point as we continued our counterclockwise loop hike

The trail would eventually get close to its brink where the falls could be clearly heard but not seen.

Then the trail continued to more-or-less follow the southern rim of the Diamond Creek canyon essentially climbing for most of the way as we continued to be flanked by tall trees providing us shade.

During our visit in mid-July, it seemed like the mosquitos on this trail were especially aggressive so we tried to keep moving as much as we could without stopping to keep them from getting free shots at us.

After about 20 minutes from the suboptimal Lower Diamond Creek Falls vista point, we reached another trail junction where a misleading sign pointed to our right saying “Lower Diamond Cr. Falls”.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_076_07142016 - Dad and Mom continuing to follow the blue diamonds in pursuit of the Diamond Creek Falls
Dad and Mom continuing to follow the blue diamonds in pursuit of the Diamond Creek Falls

I say this sign was misleading because I thought this trail might backtrack towards that obstructed waterfall we had seen earlier.

However, it would turn out to go to a completely different waterfall (i.e. the target waterfall we were after on this hike).

Therefore, I think the forest service should have referred to this waterfall as just “Upper Diamond Creek Falls” or just “Diamond Creek Falls”.

Anyways, after following this signposted spur trail, it descended steeply into the gorge carved out by Diamond Creek.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_080_07142016 - Mom and Dad descending the nifty log-carved steps on the spur trail to the bottom of the Diamond Creek Falls
Mom and Dad descending the nifty log-carved steps on the spur trail to the bottom of the Diamond Creek Falls

The descent started by going down a nifty set of log steps carved into a large fallen tree with some hand holds for balance.

After that, the trail then descended alongside a narrow and potentially slippery slope-hugging section that I’d imagine would be quite hazardous if there was still snow or ice here.

At the bottom of the descent, we then crossed a one-sided log bridge to get over to the other side of Diamond Creek.

Then, the trail skirted around the creek’s opposite banks right up to the base of the fan-shaped Diamond Creek Falls.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_086_07142016 - Mom approaching the bottom of the impressive (Upper) Diamond Creek Falls
Mom approaching the bottom of the impressive (Upper) Diamond Creek Falls

When we showed up to the falls in the mid-afternoon, it was partially in shadow.

I’d imagine that had we been here earlier in the day, the shadows would have been less prominent.

But for that silky smooth long exposure photograph (which this graceful falls would be well-suited for), it would probably be best to show up when there’s more uniform lighting.

That would be when the entire falls are in shade (early in the morning or late in the afternoon) or under cloudy skies.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_127_07142016 - Dad going back across the one-sided log bridge over Diamond Creek after having had our fill of the Diamond Creek Falls
Dad going back across the one-sided log bridge over Diamond Creek after having had our fill of the Diamond Creek Falls

Anyways, at the base of the falls, it was noticeably cooler and less stuffier than the forested trail we had been hiking on up to this point.

Indeed, the spray from the Diamond Creek Falls was refreshing, and we even tried to rock scramble a little further downstream to try to improve our view (so the waterfall wouldn’t be as in-your-face as at the end of the official trail).

After having our fill of this pleasant falls, we then went back up the way we came and rejoined the Diamond Creek Loop Trail some 0.1-mile away.

The Diamond Creek Falls Trail Description – from the Upper Diamond Creek Falls to the Trailhead

Keeping right at the trail junction to continue going counterclockwise, we then reached an alternate vista point of Diamond Creek Falls just a minute or two later.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_137_07142016 - Mom and Dad in the home stretch of the Diamond Creek Loop Trail as we were about to conclude our counterclockwise hike
Mom and Dad in the home stretch of the Diamond Creek Loop Trail as we were about to conclude our counterclockwise hike

The view from here allowed us to better appreciate just how tall the waterfall was though it was partially obstructed by the surrounding foliage.

After having our fill of this falls, we then continued to climb on the loop trail before shortly reaching another trail junction.

This time, the trail on the right followed Fall Creek, where there were more waterfalls (the first waterfall was said to be another 0.8 miles away or 1.6 miles round trip).

We opted not to pursue those waterfalls so we kept left to conclude the loop hike.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_142_07142016 - At the end of our counterclockwise Diamond Creek Loop hike, we noticed this interesting mountain with a volcanic layer in the distance, which attested to this area's volcanic legacy
At the end of our counterclockwise Diamond Creek Loop hike, we noticed this interesting mountain with a volcanic layer in the distance, which attested to this area’s volcanic legacy

The return hike meandered through more forested terrain passing by some wildflowers in bloom as well as crossing a 4wd road a couple of times.

Eventually after a solid 35 minutes of hiking without stopping, we returned to the footbridge over Salt Creek thereby finishing off the Diamond Creek Loop.

Authorities

Salt Creek Falls resides in the Willamette National Forest near Oakridge in Lane County, Oregon. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_005_07142016 - Dad and Mom following a short but well-shaded forested path leading to the long footbridge over Salt Creek and eventually to the Diamond Creek Loop Trail
Diamond_Creek_Falls_015_07142016 - Dad on the counterclockwise loop hike in pursuit of the Diamond Creek Falls shortly after having crossed the footbridge over Salt Creek
Diamond_Creek_Falls_019_07142016 - Dad and Mom at an outcrop along the Diamond Creek Trail at what appeared to be an old lava field overlooking Salt Creek as well as the noisy Hwy 58
Diamond_Creek_Falls_021_07142016 - Dad continuing past an old lava field to continue the counterclockwise loop hike in pursuit of the Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_029_07142016 - After the old lava field, the Diamond Creek Trail then dropped back into the shade of the forest
Diamond_Creek_Falls_032_07142016 - This was one of the few spots along the Diamond Creek Trail where the trees opened up and afforded us a view of the surrounding area
Diamond_Creek_Falls_036_07142016 - Dad hiking past more of the blue diamonds along the Diamond Creek Trail en route to the Diamond Creek Falls going counterclockwise
Diamond_Creek_Falls_038_07142016 - Mom continuing to follow the blue diamonds to stay on the Diamond Creek Loop Trail
Diamond_Creek_Falls_043_07142016 - Dad and Mom flanked by an interesting sloping rock that might have hinted at some of the turbulent geology that gave rise to the eccentric features of the area like Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_046_07142016 - Dad hiking within the shade of the forest while still going counterclockwise on the loop hike to Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_051_07142016 - Beyond the vista point for the Lower Diamond Creek Falls, the trail continued to follow the blue diamonds past its brink and ultimately towards the Upper Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_057_07142016 - The Diamond Creek Loop Trail continued meandering through tall trees providing adequate forest cover from the hot early afternoon sun
Diamond_Creek_Falls_060_07142016 - In another rare moment of the forest opening up along the Diamond Creek Loop Trail, we managed to get this glimpse back at the overlooks atop the basalt cliffs for Salt Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_069_07142016 - Dad continuing on the Diamond Creek Loop Trail as we were getting closer to the spur leading us to the Upper Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_082_07142016 - After the log steps on the spur trail leading down to the Upper Diamond Creek Falls, Mom and Dad then had to skirt alongside this narrow and potentially muddy and slippery ledge trail further descending towards Diamond Creek
Diamond_Creek_Falls_083_07142016 - Dad approaching the bottom of the spur trail where we would have to cross Diamond Creek en route to the Upper Diamond Creek Falls' base
Diamond_Creek_Falls_084_07142016 - Mom and Dad crossing a one-sided log bridge traversing Diamond Creek en route to the base of the Upper Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_089_07142016 - Finally making it to the base of Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_090_07142016 - Portrait view looking across from the Upper Diamond Creek Falls while starting to fight afternoon shadows
Diamond_Creek_Falls_098_07142016 - Looking directly up at the Diamond Creek Falls after a little scrambling more towards the middle of the creek
Diamond_Creek_Falls_102_07142016 - A more straight-on look at as much of Diamond Creek Falls as I could capture from the end of the official trail
Diamond_Creek_Falls_125_07142016 - Last look back towards the base of the Diamond Creek Falls as we were heading back up to the main Diamond Creek Trail
Diamond_Creek_Falls_130_07142016 - Mom and Dad back on the main Diamond Creek Loop Trail after our interlude to the base of the Upper Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond_Creek_Falls_131_07142016 - Literally minutes after regaining the Diamond Creek Loop Trail, we got this view of Diamond Creek Falls from a higher vantage point alongside the main trail
Diamond_Creek_Falls_135_07142016 - Next, we reached another trail junction, where we kept left to continue the loop (passing by a 4wd road like this) instead of following Fall Creek
Diamond_Creek_Falls_138_07142016 - This was one of the wildflowers we saw on the return hike to the Diamond Creek Loop Trailhead
Diamond_Creek_Falls_141_07142016 - The last part of the counterclockwise loop hike along the Diamond Creek Trail that we did was pretty featureless as we were non-stop hiking through the forest following blue diamonds while also trying not to stop and allow mosquitos to get free shots at us
Diamond_Creek_Falls_146_07142016 - Dad returning to the well-forested area near the long footbridge over Salt Creek at the end of our Diamond Creek Trail excursion
Diamond_Creek_Falls_149_07142016 - Dad going underneath this fallen tree that just happened to be held up by other healthy trees towards the end of our loop hike along the Diamond Creek Trail
Diamond_Creek_Falls_151_07142016 - Finally back at the bridge over Salt Creek some 2.5 hours after starting on this Diamond Creek Trail loop hike
Salt_Creek_Falls_032_07142016 - Mom pushing forward through this forested stretch after coming back across the Salt Creek Bridge to once again experience Salt Creek Falls before going back to the car
Salt_Creek_Falls_063_08202009 - Back in August 2009, we tried to hike to Diamond Creek Falls, but we were ultimately thwarted by damage on the footbridge over Salt Creek
Salt_Creek_Falls_064_08202009 - The closure that turned us back at the bridge over Salt Creek back in August 2009

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The nearest big town to Diamond Creek Falls and Salt 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.

Salt_Creek_Falls_009_07142016 - The parking lot for Salt Creek Falls, which also supported the trailhead for the Diamond Creek Trail
The parking lot for Salt Creek Falls, which also supported the trailhead for the Diamond Creek Trail

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.

Diamond_Creek_Falls_001_07142016 - The Diamond Creek Trail actually began from the far end of the parking lot for the Salt Creek Observation Site
The Diamond Creek Trail actually began from the far end of the parking lot for the Salt Creek Observation Site

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, which was one of the few places to get gas in this pretty remote part of Southern Oregon) before heading northwest on Hwy 58.

Next, we 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.

Salt_Creek_Falls_010_07142016 - People gathered around the self-help pay-and-display kiosk to surrender the $5 per vehicle fee to park at the Salt Creek Falls Recreation Area
People gathered around the self-help pay-and-display kiosk to surrender the $5 per vehicle fee to park at the Salt Creek Falls Recreation Area

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.

Finally, for some additional geographic context, Medford was 97 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Roseburg, 274 miles (over 4 hours drive) south of Portland, 308 miles (about 5 hours drive) north of Sacramento, California, and 692 miles (10.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles, California.

Sweep panning around the base of Diamond Creek Falls


Focused sweep on the Diamond Creek Falls from a higher vista along the main trail


Tried to see as much of the lowermost of the Diamond Creek Waterfalls through all the obstructing foliage

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Tagged with: oakridge, willamette, national forest, lane, oregon, waterfall, diamond creek, odell lake, diamond creek



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Two spectacular falls (Salt Creek & Lower Diamond) August 19, 2011 6:08 am by Mark Ockelmann - 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. I didn't measure it but it felt like 2 miles. There were several nice view points on the walk in showing the surrounding hills. The book… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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