Munson Creek Falls

Tillamook, Oregon, USA

About Munson Creek Falls


Hiking Distance: 1/2-mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2017-08-17
Date last visited: 2017-08-17

Waterfall Latitude: 45.36262
Waterfall Longitude: -123.76946

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Munson Creek Falls was probably the most significant waterfall in the vicinity of the Oregon Coast that we’ve encountered.

Tumbling over three visible tiers, it was said to have a cumulative height of 319ft, which also made it possibly the tallest in the Oregon Coast Range.

Munson_Creek_Falls_025_08172017 - Munson Creek Falls in late Summer flow
Munson Creek Falls in late Summer flow

While the Oregon Coast contained many natural features like sand dunes, sea stacks, lighthouses, beaches, and even sea arches, waterfalls were something we never really counted on seeing in these parts.

In fact, we even missed this waterfall when we first drove along the Oregon Coast back in late March 2009.

On that trip, we had to retreat to the coast to avoid the snow in the mountains after some nasty storms that hit us during that time.

When we learned after the fact that there was this waterfall near Tillamook, and it required a very short hike to reach, we made a concerted effort to come back when the opportunity arose (which came 8 years later).

Experiencing Munson Creek Falls

Munson_Creek_Falls_005_08172017 - The Munson Creek Falls Trail meandered through a forest full of ferns and trees with moss hanging out of them attesting to the high rainfall in the area
The Munson Creek Falls Trail meandered through a forest full of ferns and trees with moss hanging out of them attesting to the high rainfall in the area

From the unpaved trailhead parking area (see directions) below, we followed a flat trail flanked by tall trees providing quite a good deal of shade on a warm and sunny afternoon.

Even in the dry Summer that we experienced on our visit, the trees still clung onto brownish moss growing out of their trunks and branches.

Moreover, ferns still covered the forest floor, which further attested to how much moisture this area would typically get.

The path meandered alongside Munson Creek as the stream gently gurgled its way downstream towards the Pacific.

Munson_Creek_Falls_011_08172017 - The Munson Creek Falls Trail followed along Munson Creek
The Munson Creek Falls Trail followed along Munson Creek

Then, the trail started to climb up a short hill providing perhaps the best view of Munson Creek Falls (shown at the top of this page).

The trail then continued as it descended steps before going up the next set of steps.

But then the trail was cut short by a closure sign admonishing us not to go further.

From the closure fence and sign, the views were a little less satisfying than before even though the falls was closer.

Munson_Creek_Falls_016_08172017 - Context of Munson Creek Falls as the trail approached its closure point
Context of Munson Creek Falls as the trail approached its closure point

Beyond the closure sign, the trail eventually disappeared into either Munson Creek or under the debris of broken trees, lots of dirt, and rocks.

The instability of the neighboring cliffs was what warranted the closure, and further progress to get closer to the base of the falls would be foolish.

Apparently, this landslide occurred in the mid 1990s, and the remainder of the trail was never rebuilt since.

So after having my fill of the Munson Creek Falls, we returned the way we came.

Munson_Creek_Falls_038_08172017 - Returning to the trailhead for the Munson Creek Falls, which was popular, but people don't tend to linger around given the trail closure on our August 2017 visit
Returning to the trailhead for the Munson Creek Falls, which was popular, but people don’t tend to linger around given the trail closure on our August 2017 visit

Judging from how many other people came and left, Munson Creek Falls was still a popular place.

However, their time spent on the trail seemed to be even shorter than the half-hour or so we spent away from the car.

Authorities

Munson Creek Falls resides in Munson Creek Falls State Park near Tillamook in Tillamook County, Oregon. It is administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Munson_Creek_Falls_001_08172017 - The trailhead for the Munson Creek Falls as it went right into the temperate rainforest
Munson_Creek_Falls_007_08172017 - Looking up at some mossy hairs dangling from the trees providing shade for the Munson Creek Falls Trail during our August 2017 visit
Munson_Creek_Falls_012_08172017 - Getting my first look at the Munson Creek Falls after going up a short hill during my August 2017 visit
Munson_Creek_Falls_019_08172017 - This was the trail closure that stopped short of the base of the Munson Creek Falls during my August 2017 visit
Munson_Creek_Falls_029_08172017 - Broad look back at Munson Creek Falls from perhaps the best viewpoint, which was the short hill before the trail closure. Apparently, getting to the base of the waterfall was no longer safe

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From downtown Tillamook at the junction of Hwy 6 and the US Hwy 101, we drove south on the US Hwy 101 for about 7.2 miles then turned left onto Munson Creek Rd.

We then drove on Munson Creek Rd for the next mile as the narrow paved road passed through residences then became unpaved beyond the homes.

The road then came to a fork where a sign had us keeping left to remain on Munson Creek Rd.

Munson_Creek_Falls_002_08172017 - The parking area for the Munson Creek Falls Trailhead
The parking area for the Munson Creek Falls Trailhead

Next, the route then veered right at the next signed fork to leave the Munson Creek Road and reach the end of the unpaved road in another 0.4-0.5 miles.

This drive took us about 15 minutes.

For some geographical context, Tillamook was about 40 miles (an hour drive) south of Cannon Beach, 73 miles (under 2 hours drive) west of Portland, 118 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Florence, 140 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) north of Eugene, 167 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) north of Coos Bay, 190 miles (over 4 hours drive) north of Bandon, and 303 miles (about 5 hours drive) north of Medford.

Video starting with the trail closure then moving back to the apex of the trail while checking out Munson Falls from at least three different spots

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Tagged with: tillamook, tillamook county, oregon coast, cape meares, trail closure, landslide, oregon, waterfall



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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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