Silver Creek Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon

South Falls, Silver Creek Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon
South Falls, Silver Creek Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon

Nestled in the hills east of Salem, Oregon, Silver Creek Falls State Park is a favorite of both locals and out-of-towners alike. An easy half hour drive from Salem, you would be hard pressed to find a better park in which to observe so many beautiful waterfalls.

Silver Creek has two branches, the north and the south. South Falls and Lower South Falls are both formed by the southern branch of Silver Creek. The northern branch contains the large remainder of the waterfalls found in this park.

The best times of the year to view waterfalls is shortly after the spring snowmelt has begun. This will allow you to catch a view while the waterflow is at it’s maximum. April has been proven a good viewing month.

Take a hike with us as we visit the many beautiful waterfalls that Silver Creek’s two branches have developed.

Hikes vary in distance from 0.5 to 7.5 miles round trip.

Round trip
hiking distance
Trail Description – Click on link(s) for full details.
0.5
Hike from park HQ to South Falls and return. Most of the trail is paved but portions are steep and wet so use caution.
2.0
The Mini Tour – Visit South Falls and Lower South Falls
5.0
The Maxi Tour – Visit 6 of the 10 major waterfalls.
South Falls, Lower South Falls, Lower North Falls, Double Falls, Drake Falls and Middle North Falls
7.5
The Grand Tour – Visit all 10 Silver Creek waterfalls.

Oregon State Park day use fee $3.00. The automated permit system accepts $5, $1 and $0.25.

Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park

Paradise, Mt. Rainier, Late August Flowers
Paradise, Mt. Rainier, Late August Flowers

The meadows of Paradise are arguably the most popular summer hiking destination located within Mount Rainier National Park. Late each summer, peaking around the second week in August, massive amounts of flowers burst into bloom across the spectacular meadows of Paradise.

Paradise, Mt. Rainier, More Wildflowers
Paradise, Mt. Rainier, More Wildflowers

You will find many hiking trails in Paradise. Trails range from less than a quarter mile on a paved surface to the five mile dirt, gravel and snow, Skyline Trail which travels the circumference of the meadows. Common flowers that you will find are Indian Paintbrush, Daisies, Lupins, Beargrass and many many others.

Points of interest:

  • Panorama Point – 6,800 feet elevation
  • Alta Vista – 4,940 feet elevation
  • Skyline Trail – Round Trip 5.0 miles
  • Skyline Trail (Golden Gate Trail shortcut) – Round Trip 4.1 miles
  • Nisqually Vista Trail – Round Trip 1.1 miles
  • Waterfall Trail – 0.21 miles long
  • Avalanche Lily Trail – 0.41 miles long
  • Golden Gate Trail – 1.0 miles long
  • Glacier Vista Trail – 0.31 miles long – 6,336 feet elevation

Directions:

Paradise is located on the south face of Mt. Rainier. Follow Washington State route 706 to the Nisqually entrance. Continue east for 18 miles until you reach the Paradise Visitors Center.

Cape Meares State Park, Oregon

Cape Meares State Park
Cape Meares State Park

Pictured here is the beach of Cape Meares State Park.

If you like to hunt agates and other earth treasures this beach is for you. There is plenty of space to walk, listen to the waves and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Be sure to walk south towards the basalt face of Cape Meares and get a closer view of this geologic wonder.

From the beach, a short drive south on the main road will allow you a close view of the Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Cape Meares State Park is located about 15 miles west of Tillamook, OR.

Williamson State Park, Oregon

Williamson State Park, Oregon
Williamson State Park, Oregon

Located 12 miles north of Salem on Highway 221 is Williamson State Park. It is a small parcel of land donated to the State of Oregon in January 1934 by Maud Williamson in the memory of her mother Ruby T. Williamson. The park is equipped with toilet facilities, a covered picnic area and lots of room to run. The ease of access from the main road makes this an ideal site for a quick picnic.

Ecola State Park, Oregon

Rest on a bench while watching Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
Rest on a bench while watching Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, Ecola State Park

Ecola State Park is a very popular spot to visit, especially if you live near Portland, OR. Almost a straight shot west from Portland on Highway 26 Ecola State Park offers a wide variety of activities.

  • Turn left just after entering the park for Crescent Beach access. Here you will find a nice spot to picnic and enjoy breathtaking views.
  • Turn right for easier beach access at Indian Beach. Hiking trails up the coastal bluffs give you better views of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.
Sea Lion Rock - home of many different species of wildlife, Ecola State Park Oregon
Sea Lion Rock – home of many different species of wildlife, Ecola State Park Oregon

Crescent Beach

There are lots of picnic tables but on the weekends things can be a bit crowded so bring a blanket on which to sit.

A short walk from the parking lot, a well paved trail, will take you out the viewpoint where the picture of Sea Lion Rock was taken. This is a prime spot for whale watching. If you forget your own binoculars the park has provided some coin (quarter) activated viewers.

Trails lead from the parking area down to the sandy beaches below. The trails can be steep and footing unsure on loose rocky ground.

Indian Beach

A short one mile drive from the park entrance, on a narrow winding road, is Indian Beach. Here you will find easy beach access a few yards from the parking area. Lots of water addicts come here to swim, surf and just plain enjoy the sun.

If hiking is your thing you can hike north along the coastal bluffs for less than a mile and look STRAIGHT down to the ocean and beaches below. There are several looping points, or if a long hike is what you’re looking for, the full six miles to Seaside, OR., will give you a great workout. This six mile trail was thought to have been originally hiked by Louis and Clark while locating Native American tribes to trade with for supplies.

Directions

Ecola State Park is located just north of Cannon Beach, OR. Highway 101 will give you your easiest access to the Cannon Beach. A slow but short drive through a villa of tourist traps winds through town on your way to the park.

Audubon Nature Reserve Memorial Park, Salem, Oregon

Audubon Nature Reserve Memorial Park, Southern bench along trail
Audubon Nature Reserve Memorial Park, Southern bench along trail

The Audubon Nature Reserve Memorial Park is located in west Salem, OR. This small forest park which is just over 7 acres was donated by the Gehlhar-Schnuelle families in December 1991 in order to protect it from commercial development.

Located along the well prepared trail you will find three sitting benches. One is located at the north end of the park, the second is in the middle and the final bench is located about two-thirds of the way south. The trail forms two loops with a connector trail in the middle of the park.

Audubon Nature Reserve Memorial Park, Looking south from near the southern bench (pictured above)
Audubon Nature Reserve Memorial Park, Looking south from near the southern bench (pictured above)

You will find many Big Leaf Maples and White Oaks with a sprinkling of Douglas Fir. The understory is mainly Cherry and Hawthorne with a lone Madrone thrown in for good measure. Much of the forest floor is covered in English Ivy vines which crawls up the trunks of the Big Leaf Maples. Other low growth includes Indian Plum, Slowberry, Himilian Blackberry and a little Poison Oak. In the spring you will see White Fawn Lilies along the trails edge and Trilliums dotting the forest floor.

Expect to hear many birds. Robins, Starlings and Swifts are all commonly found.

You will need to carry your own water supply and there are not any restroom facilities present.

Directions:

Traveling from downtown Salem:

  • Take HWY 22 west towards the “Ocean Beaches”
  • Travel about 1.5 miles and take the “Rosemont / Edgewater” exit.
  • Turn left at the first stoplight (you will see a Safeway shopping center).
  • Travel about 0.25 miles to west edge of Safeway parking lot.
  • Turn right onto Eola Drive.
  • Travel up the hill another short 0.25 miles and you will see the parking lot and sign on your right hand side.

Traveling east on HWY 22 from coast:

  • Traveling east take the HWY 221 exit.
  • Travel about 0.75 miles.
  • Turn left onto Eola Drive.
  • Travel up the hill another short 0.25 miles and you will see the parking lot and sign on your right hand side.

Thanks to Jerry Smith of the Salem chapter of the Audubon Society for providing many of the facts you have read.

Helmick State Park, Oregon

Helmick State Park, Oregon - Oak Tree
Helmick State Park, Oregon – Oak Tree

Located 5 miles south of Monmouth, OR, near Highway 99 (15 miles north of Corvallis) is Helmick State Park. Established in 1922 from a donation by “Grandma Helmick,” this was originally part of a homestead claim made in 1846. This plot of land was the first deeded to the State of Oregon for park purposes. Originally only five acres, Helmick Park has been enlarged to over 30 acres.

There are many large oaks which provide shelter for the picnic tables beneath them. The view of the river which borders the north edge of the park was unimpressive. The park is equipped with toilet facilities, picnic areas and lots of room to run. The ease of access from the main road makes this an ideal site for a quick picnic.

Willamette Mission State Park, Oregon

National Champion Black Cottonwood Tree, Willamette Mission State Park
National Champion Black Cottonwood Tree, Willamette Mission State Park

This old mission site has been turned into a park which lies between Mission Lake and the Willamette River.

Mission Lake was created when the main channel of the Willamette River moved west during the great flood of 1888 to it’s present location, leaving the lake in the old riverbed.

Willamette Mission State Park has an Oregon State Park day use fee of $3.00. The automated permit system accepts $5, $1 and $0.25. The park is closed from dusk to dawn, cars left inside the park after hours may be towed.
Moterized boats are not allowed on the lake.

Old Walnut orchards border the west edge of Mission Lake. Filberts may be found to the east, nearer the Willamette River.

Points of Interest