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