As Oregon’s weather warms into spring, it’s time to start exploring Willamette Valley’s diverse waterfall scene. Start with a trip at the southern end of the Willamette Valley in the West Cascades.
Visit Salt Creek Falls, located 23 miles southeast of Oakridge, OR. As one of the tallest waterfalls in Oregon (cascading 286 feet) Salt Creek Falls Trails is an easy half-mile hike with a wheelchair accessible observation point to view several angles of the water. From the observation point the trail drops steeply into a canyon, ending near the base of the waterfall. This view is a year-round guarantee of scenic beauty and is very simple to access – the observation platform at the top of the waterfall is only 50 yards from the parking lot and the finding the falls from Hwy 58 is a breeze with easy-to-follow- signs.
Salt Creek Falls trail also has access to the nearby Diamond Creek Falls trail. This 3.2 mile loop trail skirts the rims of the Salt Creek and Diamond Creek Canyons, passing the lower falls first and continuing to the upper falls where Diamond Creek spills over. Halfway through the hike a side trail descends to the base of the upper falls for a dramatic look up.
From Salt Creek, if you are looking to relax after your hike, McCredie Hot Springs is only 13 miles northwest on Hwy 58 between milepost 46 and 57. McCredie Hot Springs are easily accessible from the road with paved parking. Several extremely hot (please use caution) pools border the cold and fast-flowing Salt Creek, a Willamette River tributary. These hot springs remain natural and undeveloped.
If you keep traveling northwest on Hwy 58 towards Eugene, you will end up in the small town of Oakridge. While in Oakridge, make sure you stop downtown for a genuine British cask Ale and a bite at Brewers Union Local 180.
Take a quick trip into the neighboring town of Westfir and check out a few covered bridges that are along Hwy 58. The Office Covered Bridge was built in 1924 and is Oregon’s longest covered bridge. If you continue along the highway toward Eugene you will run into Lowell Covered Bridge, which is Oregon’s widest covered bridge. Pengra, Parvin, Unity and Cannon Street covered bridges are all within a 10 mile radius of Lowell Covered Bridge, making it a great starting point for another scenic excursion.