South Falls

Silver Falls State Park / Salem, Oregon, USA

About South Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.8 miles round trip (to base)
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes (to base)

Date first visited: 2009-03-30
Date last visited: 2009-03-31

Waterfall Latitude: 44.87952
Waterfall Longitude: -122.65968

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Despite its rather unimaginative name, South Falls was probably the one waterfall in Silver Falls State Park that seemed to us to have the most notoriety.

While the park featured ten main waterfalls (which strangely enough had none actually named Silver Falls), I swore I’ve seen only South Falls grace numerous calendar shots, post cards, and web photos in its various moods from season to season.

Silver_Falls_SP_029_03302009 - South Falls in Silver Falls State Park
South Falls in Silver Falls State Park

However, we weren’t exactly certain why this was the case.

After all, we thought Silver Falls State Park’s other waterfalls had similar size and volume, but perhaps its ease of access might have something to do with it.

Nonetheless, we were impressed with the South Falls’ size, classical shape, and the variety of ways we were able to see and experience it.

Regarding its size, South Falls was said to have a direct plunge of 177ft over an overhanging ledge that gave it a classically slender rectangular shape.

Silver_Falls_SP_005_03302009 - Angled view of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park from the overlook closest to the parking area
Angled view of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park from the overlook closest to the parking area

Moreover, the size of the alcove behind the waterfall attested to its age as well as the ability for us to walk behind it and see it from back there in a variety of angles.

Experiencing South Falls

There were plenty of walking trails allowing us to see the waterfall from its very top as well as from both sides at its bottom, including its aforementioned back side.

A footbridge a little further downstream from the falls provided us with a direct view opposite the giant plunge pool.

It only required us to walk on a gentle 0.2-mile path from the parking lot (see directions below) to the first views of the South Falls, which was more of a top down angled view from the rim of the gorge.

Silver_Falls_SP_021_03302009 - A nearly profile view of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park as I took the loop trail that went around its plunge pool, including the waterfall's backside
A nearly profile view of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park as I took the loop trail that went around its plunge pool, including the waterfall’s backside

Next, we descended towards the loop trail that went around the waterfall’s base, which itself descended down to the level of the plunge pool when the trail swung around to the footbridge opposite the falls.

As we approached the descent to get lower into the gorge in front of the falls (between the upper viewpoints and the footbridge downstream of the falls), we noticed a signposted spur path leading to the tiny Frenchie Falls.

However, Frenchie Falls wasn’t substantial enough to be part of the Trail of Ten Falls, which was a roughly 7-mile loop that passed by all 10 of Silver Falls State Park’s main waterfalls, including South Falls.

Further downstream from the footbridge, we continued further along the Trail of Ten Falls to reach the equally attractive but just as unimaginatively named Lower South Falls, which we described in detail on its own page.

Silver_Falls_SP_010_03302009 - Julie checking out the backside of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park
Julie checking out the backside of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park

To give you an idea of how easy it was to visit this waterfall, Julie and I spent 45 minutes away from the car, but this encompassed us taking our sweet time with plenty of photo stops as well as walking the loop that went behind the falls.


South Falls resides in Silver Falls State Park near Salem in Marion 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.

Silver_Falls_SP_002_03302009 - Late afternoon view of South Falls while the sun briefly showed itself before disappearing for the next few days due to another rain storm
Silver_Falls_085_03312009 - Familiar view of South Falls from the first lookout from the car park under some rainy conditions
Silver_Falls_SP_003_03302009 - Julie descending towards South Falls along the well-established paved trail
Silver_Falls_SP_013_03302009 - Looking directly outwards from behind South Falls
Silver_Falls_SP_014_03302009 - Profile view from the deep alcove behind South Falls
Silver_Falls_SP_026_03302009 - Direct look at the South Falls from the footbridge just downstream of the wide plunge pool
Silver_Falls_SP_035_03302009 - South Falls fronted by bare mossy trees as I was completing the loop hike around the plunge pool
Silver_Falls_088_03312009 - Contextual top down view of South Falls in the rain
Silver_Falls_095_03312009 - Signposted spur trail leading to Frenchie Falls
Silver_Falls_097_03312009 - The diminutive Frenchie Falls
Silver_Falls_099_03312009 - A rest bench with a nice view of the South Falls
Silver_Falls_104_03312009 - South Falls fronted by the footbridge across its creek

There are two entrances to the Silver Falls State Park.

One way heads about 13 miles southeast on the Hwy 214 from the quaint town of Silverton to the park’s north entrance.

Another way goes directly east of Salem towards the park’s south entrance.

Once inside Silver Falls State Park, towards the south end of the park along Hwy 214 (just north of the campground), there’s a turnoff to the west (left if you’re heading north or right if you’re heading south) leading to the South Falls area.

Once within the complex, there are car parks, a lodge, and picnic areas.

For further geographical context, Portland was 42 miles (an hour drive) north of Silverton and 47 miles (also an hour drive) north of Salem.

Find A Place To Stay

Familiar view of the falls with someone walking behind it

Bottom up sweep directly from behind the falls

View from the footbridge downstream of the falls

Tagged with: silver falls, state park, salem, marion, oregon, waterfall, pacific northwest, silverton, behind

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South Falls March 20, 2023 8:34 pm by Philipp Merillat - South Falls at Silver Falls State Park is among many others, some which you can walk behind, like this one. ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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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