Tumalo Falls

Deschutes National Forest / Bend, Oregon, USA

About Tumalo Falls


Hiking Distance: almost roadside; up to 1/2-mile round-trip to viewpoint
Suggested Time: up to 1 hour

Date first visited: 2021-06-27
Date last visited: 2021-06-27

Waterfall Latitude: 44.03404
Waterfall Longitude: -121.56696

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Tumalo Falls was a classically rectangular-shaped waterfall that reminded me very much of Rainbow Falls near Mammoth, California.

Not only did these waterfalls have a satisfying shape, but they were similar in size, and they both were in similar rainshadow environments full of pine trees.

Tumalo_Falls_045_06272021 - Tumalo Falls
Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls features a 97ft drop, and it was quite easy to visit because it didn’t require much of a hike to experience.

For that reason as well as the fact that it’s located quite close to the city of Bend, this was a very popular waterfall so its parking situation can get crazy really fast.

Just to give you an idea of the parking situation, we showed up at around 6:40am on a Saturday morning, and we were one of few early birds that snagged one of a handful of parking spaces past the bridge over Tumalo Creek (see directions below).

But when we got back to the car just before 8am, the main parking lot was not only full, but people started parking along the shoulders of the unpaved road before the bridge over Tumalo Creek.

Tumalo_Falls_074_iPhone_06272021 - The parking situation filled up so quickly that people started to park on the road shoulder of the Tumalo Creek Road even before 8am
The parking situation filled up so quickly that people started to park on the road shoulder of the Tumalo Creek Road even before 8am

I’m sure at peak times of the day, the parking situation may run back for at least a mile, which means that you’d have to hike the extra mile in each direction (adding 2 miles round-trip to your total hike).

In addition to the lookout by the parking lot, I also managed to experience it from an unsigned trail to its base as well as from its upper viewpoint.

Tumalo Falls Upper Viewpoint

Besides the lookout close to the parking lot (just past the restrooms), I followed the well-established North Fork Trail (No.24.2) beside the road closure towards the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint.

A trail sign along that trail indicated that it was a quarter-mile away, and my GPS logs pretty much confirmed it.

Tumalo_Falls_083_06272021 - Context of the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint and the Tumalo Falls
Context of the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint and the Tumalo Falls

About half-way up this hill, there was an unsigned or unmarked spur trail veering to the right, which I’ll get to later.

As for continuing up the well-established trail, it eventually started to flatten out, but at just about 0.2-mile from the start was a trail fork.

Keeping left at the fork would have continued the North Fork Trail, but I kept right along the railings, and it reached a protruding overlook with a more top down view of Tumalo Falls.

Just beyond that viewpoint, I was able to follow the fencing to another lookout situated right at the brink of Tumalo Falls.

Tumalo Falls Base

Tumalo_Falls_037_06272021 - An unsigned use-trail deviating from the North Fork Trail about half-way up to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint
An unsigned use-trail deviating from the North Fork Trail about half-way up to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint

So on the 1/4-mile trail leading up to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint, there was that unsigned trail junction where a path went to the right.

This unmarked trail appeared to have had quite a bit of use as well as remnants or evidence that it’s a legitimate trail even though there was no official signage confirming it.

Nevertheless, I was able to follow this trail as it was flanked by low-lying shrubs before rounding a bend and following Tumalo Creek upstream.

After going over a couple of tree roots, the trail-of-use ultimately ended right next to the base of Tumalo Falls with part of it sitting kind of behind it (though it was being sprayed pretty intensely when I was there in late June 2021).

Tumalo_Falls_064_06272021 - Context of the 'trail' kind of going behind the base of Tumalo Falls
Context of the ‘trail’ kind of going behind the base of Tumalo Falls

When I looked around from this area, I could see that this area pretty much sat directly beneath the lookouts at the top of the canyon rim so that gives you an idea of where this trail is situated relative to the sanctioned North Fork Trail.

After having my fill of this spot, I headed back the way I came to that half-way point of the ascent to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint to end this little (but satisfying) detour.

Extending A Visit To Other Waterfalls

I had originally planned to extend my hike further up the North Fork Trail to at least Double Falls and perhaps the Upper Tumalo Falls.

However, an unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest prevented me from any hiking longer hiking pursuits, especially when I had other waterfalls to pursue later that day.

Tumalo_Falls_082_06272021 - This trail fork was where the North Fork Trail continued on the left while trail to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint and its brink continued along the railings on the right
This trail fork was where the North Fork Trail continued on the left while trail to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint and its brink continued along the railings on the right

Had I done these pursuits, the out-and-back hike to Double Falls would have been about 2 round-trip.

Continuing higher up the North Fork Trail to the Upper Tumalo Falls would have been about 4 miles round-trip.

Hopefully, on the next opportunity under more benign conditions, I’ll pursue these waterfalls as part of an extended hike to more completely experience this very popular area.

Authorities

Tumalo Falls resides in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend in Deschutes 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.

Tumalo_Falls_001_06272021 - We made sure to get an early start to ensure we'd be able to park at the Tumalo Falls Day Use Area
Tumalo_Falls_009_06272021 - Approaching the closest viewpoint for Tumalo Falls, which was just a short jaunt from the parking lot
Tumalo_Falls_025_06272021 - Tumalo Falls and the context of Tumalo Creek as seen from the lookout closest to the parking lot
Tumalo_Falls_031_06272021 - Another contextual look at Tumalo Falls and the cliffs that gave rise to it
Tumalo_Falls_033_06272021 - Julie checking out Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_004_06272021 - Hiking the North Fork Trail towards the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint, which would be perched at the gorge rim
Tumalo_Falls_035_06272021 - The trail to the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint was well-developed
Tumalo_Falls_038_06272021 - I followed the unsigned trail deviating from the North Fork Trail as I wondered where it ended up going.  It passed by this pair of wooden poles, which made me wonder if it used to be a sanctioned hiking trail at one point
Tumalo_Falls_040_06272021 - The unsigned use-trail that I followed passed through more vegetation growing onto the informal trail, and it became apparent to me at this point that it was getting towards the bottom of Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_077_06272021 - Context of the use-trail leading to the bottom of Tumalo Falls and the adjacent cliffs supporting the overlooks above
Tumalo_Falls_043_06272021 - Approaching the bottom of Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_048_06272021 - Portrait view of Tumalo Falls close up
Tumalo_Falls_051_06272021 - Looking up towards the top of the cliff where the North Fork Trail and the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint would be
Tumalo_Falls_052_06272021 - Profile view of Tumalo Falls as I was approaching its backside
Tumalo_Falls_053_06272021 - This was about as much of going behind Tumalo Falls as I would be able to do on this late June 2021 visit
Tumalo_Falls_055_06272021 - Looking downstream from the base of Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_061_06272021 - Looking back at some of the tree roots that I had to scramble over in order to reach the base and backside of Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_063_06272021 - Looking ahead at another tree root that I had to get over in order to reach the base and backside of Tumalo Falls at the uppermost drop of White River Falls fronted by other remnants of the White River Power Station
Tumalo_Falls_079_06272021 - Back on the main North Fork Trail as I was now pursuing the Tumalo Falls Overlook just as more people showed up on this trail
Tumalo_Falls_080_06272021 - Following the fencing as the ascent was flattening out en route to the overlook for Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_081_06272021 - Looking downstream towards the bridge over Tumalo Creek and some more cars starting to show up early in the morning
Tumalo_Falls_090_06272021 - Looking down at an angle towards Tumalo Falls from around the viewpoint
Tumalo_Falls_091_06272021 - Looking back at the context of the Tumalo Falls Viewpoint and Tumalo Creek down below
Tumalo_Falls_109_06272021 - Looking down over the brink of Tumalo Falls
Tumalo_Falls_112_06272021 - With the popularity comes the urban blight, and Tumalo Falls was no different as evidenced by this graffiti
Tumalo_Falls_118_06272021 - Another contextual look at the overlook and Tumalo Falls before I ended my late June 2021 visit
Tumalo_Falls_127_06272021 - When I got back to the first viewpoint for Tumalo Falls, the morning sun had breached the cliffs and now created some harsh shadows


Since Tumalo Falls is just west of downtown Bend, I’ll just describe the driving directions from there.

So assuming we’re going south on the US97 towards downtown Bend, we’d take the easy-to-miss exit at Hawthorne Avenue (this is the next exit after Lafayette Av and the one before Colorado Ave).

Tumalo_Falls_124_06272021 - The parking lot for Tumalo Falls filled up well before 8am
The parking lot for Tumalo Falls filled up well before 8am

Once on Hawthorne Ave, we’d turn left at the four-way stop onto NW Hill St, and then we’d follow NW Hill St until we have to turn right onto Franklin Ave.

Then, we’d continue on Franklin Ave for about 3/4-mile as it bends towards NW Galveston Ave, where we’d turn right to continue going west.

NW Galveston Ave eventually becomes Skyliners Rd, and we’d follow this street another 10.5 miles until reaching the signed turnoff for Tumalo Falls on the left (NF-4603).

Finally, we’d follow this unpaved road for the remaining 2.5 miles before reaching the end of the road at the Tumalo Falls Day Use Parking Lot, which is just on the other side of the bridge over Tumalo Creek.

Tumalo_Falls_005_iPhone_06272021 - The unpaved Tumalo Falls Road comprising the final 2.5 miles of the drive from Bend
The unpaved Tumalo Falls Road comprising the final 2.5 miles of the drive from Bend

Overall, this drive should take no more than 10-15 minutes.

For geographical context, Bend was 143 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) south of Hood River, 128 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) east of Eugene, 173 miles (over 3 hours drive) northeast of Medford, 162 miles (over 3 hours drive) southeast of Portland, and 319 miles (over 5 hours drive) west of Boise, Idaho.

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Downstream to upstream sweep of Tumalo Falls as seen from the nearest lookout from the parking area


Fully examining the closeup look at the falls including its backside


Brief sweep of the frontal closeup look at Tumalo Falls from a little further downstream than its backside


Upstream to downstream sweep of the falls and creek from the viewpoint before walking over to a slightly better position for another sweep


Long video starting with the brink of Tumalo Falls then walking over towards the viewpoint for a more angled look at the falls

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Tagged with: deschutes, bend, three sisters



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Tumalo Falls, Oregon September 9, 2013 10:42 pm by Yesenia S. Santacruz - Great waterfall near Bend, Oregon ...Read More

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