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Whether you like long hikes or short ones near the car, Silver Falls State Park has everything you’ll want. Hike the full 7.2 mile Trail of Ten Falls to see all 10 waterfalls, or park near the North Falls for a shorter hike to two waterfalls. Silver Falls is a family-friendly hike, so bring your baby carrier, but leave the stroller at home. Dogs are not allowed at all, so leave them home, too. Best of all, you can walk behind several of the waterfalls for a unique experience you’ll never forget.
Our family visited on a blisteringly hot summer day, and we looked forward to feeling the mist from behind the waterfalls. We drove about 90 minutes from Eugene to reach Silver Falls State Park, and parked near the most famous of the falls: South Falls. Here you’ll find the most amenities. Bathrooms are located near the parking lot, and just a short distance away is the historic lodge (with cafe) and a gift shop in an adorable log cabin. Also near the parking is a wonderful swimming area, so pack towels and swimwear for a dip before heading home.
The day we went was SO BUSY. The trail to South Falls was a constant stream of people. And despite signs and warnings that dogs weren’t allowed on the trail, we saw a lot of dogs. So be aware of that if you have a child who is afraid of dogs…people take them anyway. The trail is short, only 0.7 mile, and it’s downhill (which means UPHILL on the way back) but it’s a pretty gentle slope and going down to the falls and back out wasn’t too strenuous. The view is absolutely worth it.
Our kids were 4 months, 2, 4, 5, 8, and 13 years for our trip. I carried the baby in a Tula carrier, and the other kids hiked beautifully. My husband wore a Deuter pack in case one of the others needed a ride, but none of them ever used it. The trail is not suitable for strollers, nor is it wheelchair-accessible.
Finally, we were there, right behind the water. The roar of the waterfall and the mist were a sensory treat. Our kids lined the railing and were silent. (And we have 6 kids, so that never happens!)
Back at the top of the trail, we visited the gift shop, which contains not only Silver Falls souvenirs, but Oregon-made gifts and cold drinks. We also paid a quick visit to the historic lodge, which has a cafe and coffee house. Inside, we marveled at the stone fireplace and used the restrooms.
We were eager to see more waterfalls, but not feeling up to a 7 mile hike, so we hopped back in the van for a short drive to North Falls at the other end of the park. A vault toilet is available at this parking area, but no other amenities. Two falls are easily accessible from this parking lot, the North Falls and the Upper North Falls. However, we only made it to the North Falls, which is a 0.6 mile hike to the falls. The path to North Falls is steep and includes a lot of stairs. We all tried to count, and our tallies ranged from 106 steps to a million.
End of our Day
For us, two waterfalls was plenty. Our kids were done! But we did have one thing left…we’d brought swim suits and our kids were ready to swim and unwind.
Finally, as the sun began to set, we left the park. We stopped at an overlook for a view of the surrounding farmland, offset by a smoky sun.