About Diamond Creek Falls
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
That would be when the entire falls are in shade (early in the morning or late in the afternoon) or under cloudy skies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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.
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