Toketee Falls

Umpqua National Forest / Roseburg / Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA

About Toketee Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2016-07-14
Date last visited: 2021-06-28

Waterfall Latitude: 43.2634
Waterfall Longitude: -122.43387

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Toketee Falls completely disarmed us when we first laid eyes on it, and we certainly felt good about giving this waterfall its pretty high rating.

Even though it was modestly-sized at a reported cumulative height of 120ft, it was really the relative pristine scene framed by pronounced basalt columns that really made this waterfall stand out.

Toketee_Falls_052_07142016 - Toketee Falls
Toketee Falls

Of the cumulative height, the mostly hidden upper tier fell some 40ft while the more visible lower drop fell 80ft.

We’ve seen other basalt column waterfalls in our travels like Svartifoss in Iceland so you know Toketee Falls had a similar history with fire and ice resulting in its formation.

As you can see in the photo above, it didn’t come as a surprise to us that Toketee Falls was said to be one of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls.

That’s really saying something as the state also featured the mighty Multnomah Falls, Salt Creek Falls, Proxy Falls, as well as many others clustered in the Columbia River Gorge.

Toketee_Falls_045_07142016 - Context of the lookout for Toketee Falls
Context of the lookout for Toketee Falls

In fact, we even put this waterfall on our Top 10 Best Oregon Waterfalls List.

Experiencing Toketee Falls

Strangely enough, we didn’t make our first visit to Toketee Falls for one reason or another until 2016.

Our earliest opportunity was in August 2009, but storm damage to the trail killed our chances of doing it back then.

So when we finally did come back for our maiden visit seven years later, it was with heavy anticipation, and we’d have to say that it was certainly worth the wait.

Toketee_Falls_017_07142016 - Dad and Mom hiking through the initial forested stretch of the Toketee Falls Trail as it was mostly flat in this stretch
Dad and Mom hiking through the initial forested stretch of the Toketee Falls Trail as it was mostly flat in this stretch

We began our short 1.2-mile round trip hike at the end of a well-established parking area (see directions below).

Almost immediately after leaving the pavement and crossing a small bridge, we were amidst a lot of tall moss-covered trees as the trail flatly made its way towards the banks of the North Umpqua River.

Next, the trail would more or less follow the contours of the northern banks of the river while also going up a series of steps along the way.

Throughout this stretch of the trail, we were flanked by gorge cliffs as well as railings offering us glimpses of parts of the North Umpqua River.

Toketee_Falls_032_07142016 - Mom going up a climbing stretch of the Toketee Falls Trail, which skirted alongside the rushing North Umpqua River
Mom going up a climbing stretch of the Toketee Falls Trail, which skirted alongside the rushing North Umpqua River

This included one spot where a pair of whirlpools drilled an almost heart-shaped depression downstream of one of the smaller cascades in the river.

Towards the end of the climbing sets of steps, there was a rest bench to briefly rest up and continue on a short flat stretch.

Next, the trail then descended a series of steps ultimately leading down to the viewing deck providing that familiar top down angled view of Toketee Falls.

Indeed, this view had graced many calendars and postcards that we’ve encountered in the literature over the years.

Toketee_Falls_090_07142016 - Looking down at the heart-shaped depression caused from the drilling action of whirlpools on the rushing North Umpqua River as it eventually made its dramatic plunge over the Toketee Falls further downstream
Looking down at the heart-shaped depression caused from the drilling action of whirlpools on the rushing North Umpqua River as it eventually made its dramatic plunge over the Toketee Falls further downstream

We were content to experience the falls from the viewing platform before heading back up.

However, we also noticed some younger (and more daring) individuals who managed to do the steep scramble after hopping the fences flanking the wooden trail.

They went down a steep and unstable cliffside to reach the very pristine plunge pool at the bottom of Toketee Falls.

I’m sure the view down there would be sublime, but we didn’t bother with the increased risk of making that precarious scramble.


Toketee_Falls_037_06282021 - Descending to the main lookout for Toketee Falls, but notice how someone ripped through the fence on the right and enabled some people to do the steep, off-trail scramble down to the base, which we saw during our late June 2021 visit
Descending to the main lookout for Toketee Falls, but notice how someone ripped through the fence on the right and enabled some people to do the steep, off-trail scramble down to the base, which we saw during our late June 2021 visit

In any case, we spent a little over an hour away from the car, but I’d have to say that a good deal of the time (possibly 20-30 minutes or so) was spent simply enjoying Toketee Falls.

It was quite simply one of those places that was hard to leave.

The Nomenclature and Infrastructure around Toketee Falls

Regarding the name of the Toketee Falls, I had overheard a forest service employee pronounce the name as “TOHK-uh-tee”.

Apparently, it was a Chinook word meaning something to the effect of “graceful”.

Toketee_Falls_057_07142016 - The view of Toketee Falls from the official lookout deck at the bottom of the steps
The view of Toketee Falls from the official lookout deck at the bottom of the steps

Yet even with the impressive view as you see pictured at the top of this page, it was hard to believe that its current flow was less than its normal self.

The culprit was Pacific Power diverting part of the North Umpqua River’s flow to a powerhouse futher downstream (out of sight from the trail).

There was also a dam (restricting the flow to a more or less constant rate) further upstream of the falls creating Toketee Lake.

Even from the trailhead, we could see a giant pipe diverting water from the North Umpqua River robbing the falls of its full, wild flow.

Toketee_Falls_104_07142016 - Looking back at the Toketee Falls trailhead, which was opposite some giant water pipes that I suspect had to do with diverting some of the water from the North Umpqua River for hydro power
Looking back at the Toketee Falls trailhead, which was opposite some giant water pipes that I suspect had to do with diverting some of the water from the North Umpqua River for hydro power

And yet despite all these interventions, Toketee Falls remained beautiful, colorful, and quite the rare sight.

Authorities

Toketee Falls resides in the Umpqua National Forest near Roseburg in Douglas 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.

Toketee_Falls_068_06282021 - Showing up to Toketee Falls on an unusually hot day in late June 2021 where the spray from the leakage of these diversion pipes certainly felt pretty good
Toketee_Falls_005_06282021 - Julie and Tahia about to experience Toketee Falls for their first time in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_012_06282021 - Julie and Tahia going through the well-forested beginning part en route to Toketee Falls in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_013_06282021 - Julie and Tahia going by some very tall trees suggesting that the old growth forest is still intact around the Toketee Falls Trail
Toketee_Falls_014_06282021 - Julie and Tahia still hiking on the shaded Toketee Falls Trail in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_015_06282021 - Julie and Tahia on the lightly undulating Toketee Falls Trail which involves steps in most of the inclines and declines
Toketee_Falls_018_06282021 - Context of Julie and Tahia going by a lookout over an eddy or whirlpool in the North Umpqua River during our late June 2021 visit
Toketee_Falls_022_06282021 - Julie and Tahia going up another incline along the Toketee Falls Trail
Toketee_Falls_023_06282021 - Julie and Tahia continuing up perhaps the longest climb of our short hike to Toketee Falls in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_028_06282021 - Julie and Tahia climbing up another incline on the way to Toketee Falls
Toketee_Falls_030_06282021 - Julie and Tahia descending towards the lookout for Toketee Falls in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_032_06282021 - Looking downstream through an opening showing part of the North Umpqua River as we're getting closer to Toketee Falls
Toketee_Falls_035_06282021 - Descending the final stretch leading to the overlook of Toketee Falls
Toketee_Falls_037_06282021 - Looking down at the overlook of Toketee Falls. Notice that someone decided to go through the rip in the fence and attempt a steep unsanctioned descent to the bottom of Toketee Falls during our late June 2021 visit
Toketee_Falls_038_06282021 - Looking down at someone scrambling below the lookout using the aid of a rope set up there by someone before him during our visit in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_041_06282021 - Context of Julie finally getting to experience Toketee Falls in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_047_06282021 - Contextual portrait view of Toketee Falls from the lookout
Toketee_Falls_055_06282021 - Broad look at Toketee Falls, where I can see why it's so tempting to get down to the bottom to see more of that hidden upper tier of the waterfall
Toketee_Falls_057_06282021 - Julie and Tahia heading back up after having their fill of Toketee Falls in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_060_06282021 - Julie and Tahia getting past this little rocky stretch at the crest of one of the uphill parts on the return hike from Toketee Falls in late June 2021
Toketee_Falls_061_06282021 - The undulating Toketee Falls Trail meant that it wasn't all downhill on the way back
Toketee_Falls_067_06282021 - Julie and Tahia returning to the trailhead where the diversion pipe leaks made it seem like a waterfall when we finished our late June 2021 visit
Toketee_Falls_003_07142016 - This was the trailhead parking for Toketee Falls seen as of July 2016. Notice the huge pipe on the far right, which was part of the so-called Toketee Project involving the diversion of the North Umpqua River for hydroelectricity while also more or less regulating the river's flow over Toketee Falls
Toketee_Falls_009_07142016 - Mom and Dad about to start on the relatively easy hike to Toketee Falls in July 2016.  This photo and the next several photos in this gallery were taken from that first visit of the falls
Toketee_Falls_014_07142016 - Inside the flat forested start of the Toketee Falls Trail where we were surrounded by tall trees and ferns
Toketee_Falls_018_07142016 - Dad and Mom hiking amongst the tall trees flanking the initial part of the Toketee Falls Trail
Toketee_Falls_023_07142016 - Mom going up one of the steps we needed to climb on the way to Toketee Falls after the initial flat stretch
Toketee_Falls_025_07142016 - Looking towards the North Umpqua River alongside the Toketee Falls Trail
Toketee_Falls_028_07142016 - The Toketee Falls Trail was sandwiched between the North Umpqua River and these interesting rock cliffs
Toketee_Falls_035_07142016 - Mom approaching the next set of steps leading to Toketee Falls
Toketee_Falls_036_07142016 - This was the rest bench that Mom took advantage of after all the climbing of steps on the way to the Toketee Falls during our July 2016 visit
Toketee_Falls_037_07142016 - Dad and Mom weaving between more interesting rocks flanking the Toketee Falls Trail
Toketee_Falls_038_07142016 - Mom starting the final descent to the lookout deck for Toketee Falls
Toketee_Falls_045_07142016 - Descending to the end of the official trail which yielded a gorgeous view of Toketee Falls in July 2016. Notice how the fence infrastructure here was intact (which wasn't the case when we came back in late June 2021)
Toketee_Falls_070_07142016 - The Toketee Falls Overlook at the bottom of the steps as seen in July 2016
Toketee_Falls_071_07142016 - Contextual view of the Toketee Falls and its pristine plunge pool as seen from the overlook
Toketee_Falls_078_07142016 - Last look at Toketee Falls from the main overlook before we headed back up on our July 2016 visit
Toketee_Falls_079_07142016 - It was hard to leave Toketee Falls, but once we had our fill of this place, we went back up the steps and headed back to the trailhead
Toketee_Falls_081_07142016 - Looking back at the context of the overlook platform of Toketee Falls as we were making our way back up to the trailhead
Toketee_Falls_085_07142016 - Mom continuing the hike back to the Toketee Falls Trailhead to end our July 2016 excursion
Toketee_Falls_086_07142016 - Mom hiking back amongst the interesting moss-covered rocks on the return hike from the Toketee Falls overlook in July 2016
Toketee_Falls_096_07142016 - This set of steps late in the return hike from Toketee Falls just shows how up-and-down the trail was, but overall, it wasn't that bad
Toketee_Falls_098_07142016 - Back amongst the tall trees alongside the Toketee Falls Trail
Toketee_Falls_100_07142016 - Dad back in the well-forested section near the Toketee Falls Trailhead in July 2016
Toketee_Falls_102_07142016 - Dad returning to the Toketee Falls Trailhead as we ended our memorable short hike in July 2016
Toketee_Falls_001_jx_08212009 - We were greeted by this closure at the Toketee Falls Trailhead when we first showed up back in August 2009
Toketee_Falls_003_jx_08212009 - Lots of police tape blocking progress to the trailhead parking for Toketee Falls in August 2009


Toketee Falls was in a pretty sparsely populated area of Southern Oregon (actually you can say this about the Crater Lake National Park vicinity in general).

Perhaps the nearest big town to the falls was Roseburg, which was roughly 58 miles to the west along Hwy 138.

This would be a very straightforward drive.

Toketee_Falls_003_06282021 - Context of spray from the diversion pipes cooling things down a bit at the Toketee Falls Trailhead
Context of spray from the diversion pipes cooling things down a bit at the Toketee Falls Trailhead

In our case, we made the two-hour drive from Medford (where we based ourselves) to get up to Toketee Falls.

We’ll describe this driving route below.

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.

We turned left to go north onto Hwy 138, which then bypassed the Diamond Lake Resort and eventually curved west towards the well-signed turnoff for Toketee Falls on the right.

Toketee_Falls_008_iPhone_06282021 - Looking towards the trailhead at the end of the parking area for Toketee Falls
Looking towards the trailhead at the end of the parking area for Toketee Falls

This turnoff was after roughly 23 miles from the Hwy 230/Hwy 138 junction.

Note the correct turnoff was not the Toketee Ranger Station turnoff, which was roughly 2 miles too soon.

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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Video starting off with an unsanctioned scrambling path where someone had set up ropes and taken down a fence before walking over to the actual sanctioned view of Toketee Falls (taken in late June 2021)


Panning around the area below the official lookout for Toketee Falls (taken in July 2016)

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Tagged with: umpqua, national forest, roseburg, medford, oregon, waterfall, crater lake, national park, douglas, basalt, chinook



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Toketee Falls September 24, 2011 5:23 am by Roger Weight - I took these pictures of Toketee falls, on our trip to southern Oregon. My wife and I with our dog Heidi, visited this beautiful water fall in Douglas county Oregon, between Roseburg and Crater Lake. I have not traveled the world, but this one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever visited. Roger Weight ...Read More

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