Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls

Prospect State Park / Medford, Oregon, USA

About Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls


Hiking Distance: 0.5-0.6 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2016-07-15
Date last visited: 2016-07-15

Waterfall Latitude: 42.74014
Waterfall Longitude: -122.49546

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Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls were one of those rare two-for-one waterfalling experience where you couldn’t say one played second fiddle to the other.

In fact, both waterfalls were within a stone’s throw from each other yet each were quite impressive in their own right as they each possessed good size as well as good flow.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_024_07152016 - Mill Creek Falls in Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint
Mill Creek Falls in Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint

With Mill Creek Falls, one of the trail markings proclaimed this to be 173ft tall.

However, for a waterfall of this size, 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.

Barr Creek also made its contribution to the massive Rogue River right at the base of this waterfall.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_046_07152016 - Barr Creek Falls
Barr Creek Falls

It was hard to tell which of the two we liked better – Mill Creek’s forcefulness or Barr Creek’s gracefulness.

Regardless of the comparisons, we were quite happy with the overall waterfalling experience as a whole, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Hiking to Mill Creek Falls

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.

There was a large wooden signboard showing a map of the Mill Creek Falls Scenic Area.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_008_07152016 - Mom and Dad descending from the trailhead parking at Prospect State Park in pursuit of both the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls
Mom and Dad descending from the trailhead parking at Prospect State Park in pursuit of both the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls

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 though I wondered if that was unsanctioned.

Anyways, all this downhill suggested that we would eventually go back up this way on the return hike and get back all that elevation loss.

After about five minutes removed from the parking lot, the wide and forested descending trail reached a junction.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_011_07152016 - Mom and Dad heading to the right at this trail junction with the pi-shaped sign at the bottom of the descent en route to the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls
Mom and Dad heading to the right at this trail junction with the pi-shaped sign at the bottom of the descent en route to the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls

The pi-shaped sign pointed left for “Giant Boulders” (i.e. the Avenue of the Giant Boulders) and it pointed 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.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_020_07152016 - Context of Mom checking out Mill Creek Falls
Context of Mom checking out 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.

That said, we did notice that trees growing from the bottom conspired 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 light from the sun provided nice backlighting against the white plume of Mill Creek Falls.

Hiking to Barr Creek Falls

After having our fill of the look-but-don’t-touch Mill Creek Falls, we then followed the other side of the pi-shaped sign and walked another couple of minutes towards some rock outcrop.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_038_07152016 - Mom and Dad pursuing the outcrops up ahead affording us a view towards Barr Creek Falls
Mom and Dad pursuing the outcrops up ahead affording us a view towards Barr Creek Falls

At this outcrop, 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.

Meanwhile 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 Falls, Barr Creek Falls also benefitted from the late afternoon lighting of our end-of-the-day visit so we probably timed our visit perfectly.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_048_07152016 - Context of the Barr Creek Falls and some neighboring cliffs and trees as seen from the outcrop at the end of the trail
Context of the Barr Creek Falls and some neighboring cliffs and trees as seen from the outcrop at the end of the trail

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 path in the junction (before the climb back up the parking lot) towards the Avenue of the Giant Boulders.

I believe it was another half-mile (one-way) or so further upstream from this first pi-junction we encountered.

Instead, we visited that other attraction from Pearsony Falls, which we’ll get into in a separate write-up.

Authorities

Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls reside in the Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint near Medford in Jackson County, Oregon. They are administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_003_07152016 - Dad starting on the trail to the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls by walking past the picnic table towards the south end of the parking lot
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_006_07152016 - At first, the Mom and Dad followed the trail as it skirted alongside Mill Creek Drive
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_010_07152016 - Then, the wide trail veered away from Mill Creek Drive as it descended deeper into the well shaded forest thanks to the abundance of tall trees
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_013_07152016 - Mom and Dad walking together on the wide trail to the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls while flanked by more tall trees after turning right from the pi-shaped sign at the bottom of the descent
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_015_07152016 - Mom and Dad on the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls trail as it passed by some interesting rock formations hinting at some of the geology responsible for the waterfalls to be found here
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_019_07152016 - The next pi-shaped sign branched off for Mill Creek on the left and Barr Creek on the right
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_025_07152016 - Focused look at as much of the gushing Mill Creek Falls as we could see from its sanctioned overlook
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_026_07152016 - Another contextual partial view of Mill Creek Falls from the official viewpoint at the end of its spur trail
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_036_07152016 - Mom and Dad continuing along the remainder of the trail leading to Barr Creek
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_037_07152016 - On the way to Barr Creek Falls, we noticed another one of these steel pipes with white and green stripes on them as well as etchings of the names of the trees that each pipe had fronted
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_044_07152016 - Focused look at the 242ft Barr Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_049_07152016 - Looking downstream beyond the jumble of rocks at the Barr Creek Falls lookout towards the Rogue River as it makes it way further down south
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_050_07152016 - Looking back at the outcrop where we stood on to view the Barr Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_055_07152016 - Last look back at the pi-shaped sign with part of Mill Creek Falls in the background as we were headed back to the Prospect State Park Trailhead
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_056_07152016 - Mom and Dad doing the return hike back up to the parking lot for Prospect State Park
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_058_07152016 - Mom and Dad making their way up to the Prospect State Park trailhead for Mill Creek Falls while walking by the intriguing rocks along the way
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_060_07152016 - Mom and Dad continuing the return hike from Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_065_07152016 - Making it back up to the trailhead parking for Prospect State Park where there were surprisingly a lot more cars now than when we first got started even though it was getting late in the afternoon

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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.

Mill_Creek_Falls_prospect_002_07152016 - The parking lot for Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint and the trailhead for both the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls
The parking lot for Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint and the trailhead for both the Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls

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.

Sweep checking out Mill Creek Falls and the surrounding area


Sweep checking out Barr Creek Falls and environment

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Tagged with: prospect, state park, medford, oregon, waterfall, rogue river, mill creek falls, barr creek falls, southern cascades, jackson county, cascades



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning 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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