About Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls
With Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls, we were able to get a rare two-for-one waterfalling experience where both waterfalls were within a stone’s throw from each other yet each were quite impressive as they possessed good size as well as good flow. Not often were waterfalling excursions like this were so relatively easy to do as we partook in a modest 0.5-mile round trip hike to take in both waterfalls in one go. With Mill Creek Falls, one of the trail markings proclaimed this to be 173ft tall, but it had quite a gushing flow as it seemed like all of Mill Creek was hurled over a vertical cliff before crashing and joining up with the Rogue River down below. With Barr Creek Falls, it was said to be taller at 242ft tall but it possessed a lighter yet more graceful flow as it too made its contribution to the massive Rogue River down below. It was hard to tell which of the two we liked better – Mill Creek’s forcefulness (though it was hard to see its bottom due to the overgrowth of trees) or Barr Creek’s gracefulness – yet we were quite happy with the overall waterfalling experience as a whole regardless of which one of the two we thought was better.
From the well-established parking lot (see directions below), we were immediately able to assess what we were signing up for in doing this trail as there was a large wooden signboard showing a map of the Mill Creek Falls Scenic Area. That was where we could see that we had to walk from the east end of the parking lot, which initially descended alongside Mill Creek Drive before continuing its descent as the trail veered further to the east. As we made this descent, we saw that there was a steeper shortcut trail that led straight back up to the parking lot (suggesting that we probably could have gone down this way though we would eventually go back up this way on the return hike).
After about five minutes removed from the parking lot, the wide and forested descending trail reached a junction, where a pi-shaped sign pointed left for “Giant Boulders” (i.e. the Avenue of the Giant Boulders) and right for “Falls”. Obviously, we kept right and continued along the still-wide and forested trail for the next 7 minutes or so (passing by some interesting rocks along the way) before reaching another pi-shaped sign. This time the sign pointed left for “Mill Cr 173′” and right for “Barr Cr 242′”. We first kept left where just a few paces further, we got to look right across the Rogue River Gorge at the plunging Mill Creek Falls. There were false paths throughout the hike perhaps in an effort to improve the view, but the sanctioned view was clearly the best one despite trees growing from the bottom conspiring to block the bottom portions of the waterfall’s overall drop. With the late afternoon light during our visit, it seemed to be the best time for a visit as the soft sun was shining right on the white plume of water.
After having our fill of this look-but-don’t-touch waterfall, we then followed the other side of the pi-shaped sign and walked another couple of minutes towards some rock outcrop, where we climbed up to its top and got to peer right across the Rogue River in an open setting towards Barr Creek Falls. We were also able to peer further downstream at the Rogue River making its meander further towards the south while looking in the opposite direction, we could also get obstructed views of Mill Creek Falls making us realize just how close together these impressive waterfalls were. Like with Mill Creek, Barr Creek Falls also benefitted from the late afternoon lighting of our end-of-the-day visit so we probably timed our visit perfectly.
When we had our fill of this falls, we returned back the way we came and got back to the parking lot just under an hour after we had gotten started. If we were so inclined, we could have taken the other junction towards the Avenue of the Giant Boulders, which I believe was another half-mile (one-way) or so from the first pi-junction we encountered. Instead, we visited that other attraction from Pearsony Falls, which we’ll get into in a separate write-up.
The closest big city to Prospect State Park was Medford, which was where we were based for our most recent tour of the Southern Cascades. Therefore, we’ll describe the driving directions from there.
From the I-5/Hwy 62 exit in Medford, we then took the Crater Lake Hwy (Hwy 62) for roughly 40 miles to a signed turnoff for Mill Creek Falls on the right. Turning right onto this turnoff, we then followed it briefly to the next junction where the sign pointed left as we drove onto Mill Creek Drive. Then, we continued on Mill Creek Drive for the next 0.6 miles to a parking lot on our right. We knew we were in the right place as a giant wooden sign with a map engraved on it indicated as such.
Overall, this drive was roughly an hour from Medford. I believe it was also possible to take Mill Creek Drive in the opposite direction from the small town of Prospect, but we didn’t go that way so we can’t comment more on it.
For some 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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