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15 Top-Rated Waterfalls in Oregon

Written by Brad Lane
Nov 17, 2020

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Nothing quite compares to the rushing display of gravity presented by a waterfall. Whether a tourist visiting for the first time or a long-term resident of the state, a waterfall hike is always a fun thing to do.

The Columbia River Gorge near Portland is one of the most popular waterfall-lined places to visit. Several waterfalls also make a splash in Oregon's national forests. And whether you want to see a plunge, punch bowl, or collection of cascading drops, each season adds a different view and reason to visit.

Like Multnomah Falls within the Columbia River Gorge, some waterfalls are easily accessed by vehicle. Others, like Tamanawas Falls in the Mount Hood National Forest, require more of a hike to access. Always check local conditions before arriving. Plan your outdoor adventures with our list of the top waterfalls in Oregon.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Benson Bridge and Multnomah Falls

Benson Bridge and Multnomah Falls

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area defines a large section of the Oregon and Washington border. The area is rich in waterfalls, hiking trails, and stunning mountain views. One of the best ways to experience this international destination and popular attraction is to "waterfall-hop" throughout the area.

Several waterfall hikes branch off from the Oregon side of the gorge, connected by Interstate 84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway. Along the route, other recreational outlets include elevated hiking trails, windsurfing, and kiteboarding locales, and communities that relish in it all. A good home base is Hood River, where visitors find all kinds of fun things to do.

Multnomah Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls to visit in the Columbia River Gorge and perhaps one of the most iconic natural attractions in the state. This impressive waterfall plunges for more than 600 feet to leave quite the impression on the ground below and anyone that visits.

Separated by two drops, the accessible Benson Bridge allows visitors to stand both above and below Multnomah Falls to appreciate the grandeur. On-site amenities include the Multnomah Lodge, constructed in 1925, which stands as a testament to the long history of attracting visitors.

From Portland to Multnomah Falls, the drive time is about thirty minutes. Most visitors utilize public transportation or take an organized tour from Portland. It's also possible to bike the route. To find current conditions in the area before your visit, check the Forest Service website.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hood River

2. South Falls, Silver Falls State Park

South Falls

South Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

A short drive from Salem within the Willamette Valley, Silver Falls State Park delivers with a double-digit number of waterfalls.

The most distinguished waterfall is South Falls, which plunges more than 175 feet into a dark pool. The unique path that tours the falls traverses behind the falling water for a unique perspective.

An expansive day-use area surrounds South Falls, and this mesmerizing movement of water is only the beginning of an epic showcase of stunning waterfalls. Starting at South Falls, the aptly named Trail of Ten Falls is a 7.2-mile National Scenic Trail, which covers nearly all significant waterfalls within Silver Falls State Park.

Much in thanks to this waterfall access, the park's campground ranks as one of the best places to camp in Oregon.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salem

3. Salt Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest

Salt Creek Falls

Salt Creek Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Plunging for more than 280 feet into a beautiful waterfall basin, Salt Creek Falls is one of the largest, single-drop waterfalls in the state. Much in thanks to the universally accessible boardwalk and viewing platform accessed 50 feet from the parking area, nearly anyone can appreciate this remarkable feat of gravity.

The falls are within the Willamette National Forest and a 60-mile drive east from Eugene. The drive follows the paved Willamette Highway the entire way, adding to the waterfall's accessibility.

Other ways to enjoy this "wow"-inducing waterfall include an interpretive trail and a steeper spur trail, which leads to the base of the falls. In winter, properly equipped explorers can park at the Salt Creek Sno-Park less than a half-mile away and make the easy trek to see the impressive sight surrounded by snow.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Eugene

4. Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest, Bend

Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of the highlights in Bend, and right in the city's abundant backyard known as the Deschutes National Forest, Tumalo Falls and the corresponding day-use area are a classic in the community.

After driving a gravel road and almost immediately after exiting your vehicle at the parking area, a stunning view of the distant Tumalo Falls is easy to see.

It's recommended to explore the Tumalo Creek Trail from here, which leads users through the small canyon and up to the top of the falls for a different perspective. Tumalo Falls are popular throughout the year, and the best time to avoid the crowds is mid-week and in the morning.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bend

5. Watson Falls, Umpqua National Forest

Watson Falls

Watson Falls

In the Umpqua National Forest, less than thirty miles north of Crater Lake National Park, Watson Falls is one of southwest Oregon's largest waterfalls. The falls plunge for nearly 300 feet and the surrounding waterscapes are filled with movement and many tributaries, making it a popular place for long-exposure photography.

The falls are accessed with less than a half-mile hike from the parking area. The parking area and trailhead come equipped with shaded picnic tables and restrooms, providing a great place for a packed lunch. For an easy add-on adventure to the day, the nearby Toketee Falls is an equally awe-inspiring sight to see.

6. Punch Bowl Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Punch Bowl Falls

Punch Bowl Falls

Another iconic waterfall of Oregon, Punch Bowl Falls is accessed via the Eagle Creek Trail within the Columbia River Gorge. Named after the massive pool formed by the rushing water from above, Punch Bowl Falls is not only a scenic sight but it's also a popular swimming hole throughout the summer. Expect flocks of locals, tourists, and families enjoying Punch Bowl Falls, particularly on the weekends.

Punch Bowl Falls is only one of the many attractions and water features found along the Eagle Creek Trail. Farther along the Eagle Creek Trail, long-distance hikers can reach the impressive feat of trail engineering known as Tunnel Falls. This steep canyon pathway is always popular and easily earns its designation as one of the top day trips from Portland.

The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire significantly impacted the Columbia River Gorge, including Punch Bowl Falls. Check local conditions before visiting.

7. Sahalie & Koosah Falls, Willamette National Forest

Koosah Falls

Koosah Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Offering an easy-to-access viewing platform and optional trail system, Sahalie and Koosah Falls accommodate all adventure levels. Both waterfalls are part of the scenic McKenzie River. It's highly recommended to connect the two using a 2.6-mile hiking loop that traverses a small part of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, one of Oregon's best hiking trails.

Sahalie is the larger of the two waterfalls, though Koosah is known to be the favorite among the two. Both feature separate parking areas and viewing platforms. The falls are accessible with a 70-mile drive from Eugene or a 60-mile drive from Bend.

8. Tamanawas Falls, Hood National Forest

Tamanawas Falls

Tamanawas Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Following the tumbling waters of Cold Spring Creek for more than 1.5 miles, the trail leading to Tamanawas Falls is a pleasure within itself. Traversing through a lush, forested environment on the east side of Mount Hood, the trail along Cold Spring Creek passes several large and larger drops that give a preview of what's to come.

Upon reaching Tamanawas Falls, it's hard not to tilt your head back in amazement as you take in the plunging water gracefully departing from the 150-foot lava cliff above. The many different vantage points and sitting spots surrounding Tamanawas Falls can provide hours of entertainment, and the never-ending mist from the falls helps keep the area cool in the peak of summer.

Tamanawas Falls is a popular waterfall, but the 1.5-mile hike keeps visitors to a minimum. Mid-mornings throughout the week offer a good chance to find some solitude next to the rushing water.

9. Proxy Falls, Willamette National Forest

Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Within the Willamette National Forest and accessed via the McKenzie Highway (closed in the winter), Proxy Falls is a stunning set of cascading waterfalls that plunge into a pool of cold water. Interested explorers can park their vehicle on a long highway pullout, with restrooms available and recreation passes required, and begin the 1.5-mile loop to experience the falls.

Crossing into the Three Sisters Wilderness shortly within the journey, the trail crosses large lava rock sections that require a more careful step. Proxy Falls is audible before it becomes visible, and after taking the short spur trail down to the base of the falls, it's easy to see why they are some of the most photographed in the state.

10. Latourell Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Latourell Falls is one of the first major waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge coming from Portland and is accessible from the Historic Columbia River Highway. This inspiring waterfall plunges for more than 200 feet to create a long ribbon of rushing water and mist.

Expect to share the view with other interested hikers, especially during the summer, which is also a nice time of year to cool off with the icy cold spray and pool at the bottom of the falls. A recommended approach is to bookend your exploration of Latourell Falls at Guy W. Talbot State Park, where a bountiful day-use area is perfect for a picnic and break from the crowds.

11. Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site, Tillamook County

Munson Creek Falls

Munson Creek Falls | Rick Obst / photo modified

Munson Creek Falls is one of the largest waterfalls on the Oregon coast and easily accessible from the Oregon Coast Highway. The waterfall area provides a variety of hiking options for the entire family.

A half-mile Lower Falls Trail showcases the tiered waterfall plummeting more than 300 feet to the base. The Lower Falls route gains less than 100 feet of elevation and is accessible for nearly all hiking abilities. A more challenging Upper Trail offers different perspectives and dense coastal forest surroundings.

Enormous western red cedars and Sitka spruces line the trail and define much of the landscape, providing an extra sense of grandeur alongside the falls. Munson Creek Falls is also a great detour to stretch your legs while driving the 101.

12. Toketee Falls, Umpqua National Forest

Toketee Falls

Toketee Falls

Less than three miles from Watson Falls in the Umpqua National Forest, the Toketee Falls Trail is a short out-and-back hike that's perfect for the whole family. The route to see Toketee is a 0.8-mile round trip with less than 200 feet of elevation gain along the way. The few moments of steepness along the route are lined with perfectly placed benches that cater to rest stops.

On the trail, different clearings in the foliage lend views of the North Umpqua River carving its way through the canyon. The two drops of Toketee Falls plunge more than 100 feet next to the eye-catching basalt columns that define the cliffside. This scenic landscape offers a great swimming hole for the hot days of summer.

An hour from Crater Lake, Toketee Falls makes a great add-on adventure to a national park experience.

13. White River Falls State Park, Maupin

White River Falls

White River Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Thirty miles south of The Dalles and the Columbia River, and tucked into an otherwise dry and remote landscape, White River Falls plunges for more than 90 feet into a stunning pool of icy cold water. This makes White River Falls a popular spot to cool down during the hot summer months in this part of the state. It's also a popular shoulder season hike when the region cools down.

The falls can be seen from a viewing platform just off the parking lot. A much closer view is afforded with a half-mile round-trip hike. The route is a bit steep, and contours towards a decommissioned and century-old hydroelectric plant that once utilized the rushing water.

A real appeal of this tucked-away waterfall is an additional side trail leading down to the pool of water where you can soak your feet.

14. Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Near Multnomah and Latourell Falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway, Bridal Veil Falls is a family-friendly waterfall and easy to explore. Beginning at the abundant parking area, visitors can take two trails to gain some unique perspectives of the area.

Interpretive information is found alongside panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge along the universally accessible Upper Trail. The Lower Trail leads to Bridal Veil Falls - a double cascading waterfall that resembles its namesake when water levels are high. The total length of traversing both trails is under two miles.

A small viewing platform can be found at the base of the falls, as well as a giant rock feature that's a popular spot to pose for a picture.

15. Hug Point State Recreation Site, Arch Cape

Waterfall at Hug Point State Recreation Site

Waterfall at Hug Point State Recreation Site | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The lush locations of waterfalls always increase their appeal, and the small waterfall found at Hug Point on the Oregon coast is no exception. The stunning ocean environment surrounding this seasonal waterfall is a small slice of paradise and one of the best beaches on the Oregon coast. Access to the beach is from a nearby parking lot or beach walk at low tide.

The falls are situated five miles south of the popular Cannon Beach and are ideal for every member of the family to explore. Other recreation options at Hug Point include sea caves, tide pools, and the Pacific Ocean's never-ending pounding on the shore.

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