Watson Falls....a view that gives Multnomah Falls a run for its money.

Oregon amazes me. Just when I think I’ve seen every gorgeous wonder in a lifetime spent in this incredible state, I happen along a place that takes my breath away all over again. That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I visited the North Umpqua River.

I had never seen this bit of the Old Cascades between Diamond Lake and Roseburg, and now I can’t wait to go back. Marked by a crystal clear sparkling river that passes through a steep granite canyon, the North Umpqua is every bit as gorgeous as other Oregon rivers that get more press, like the McKenzie or the Santiam. I’d even say it’s prettier, on account of its incredible number of waterfalls.

We hit the Umpqua just in time for the leaves to begin turning but past when the place was overrun with people (if it ever is). We had the venerable Steamboat Inn to ourselves, as we did the river trail. For hiking junkies like us, it doesn’t get much better than this—the North Umpqua Trail is 79 miles long and very well signed and maintained. We tackled 10 or so miles on the stretch between the Mott Trailhead and Cougar Creek, and saw hundreds of fern, cedar, sugar pine, maple, huge Douglas fir, oak, birds, one heck of a beautiful river and not a single soul on our peaceful and lovely hike.

The next day, we hit a few of the Umpqua’s marvelous waterfalls, including Tokatee and Watson, each of which competes with the other for Oregon’s most magnificent. World-famous Multnomah Falls is great, don’t get me wrong, but I think I’d put Tokatee on my bucket list recommendations first. The rugged 1/2-mile hike in past circular pools, lovely old trees and massive boulders is blow-your-mind gorgeous, and the two-tiered falls tucked deep in the woods is a sight to behold. Don’t forget your camera.

Back at the Steamboat Inn, we enjoyed a great meal in the quiet restaurant before enjoying some reading time on the deck overlooking the river and a night’s sleep with the fresh air of fall in our lungs and the sound of river water in our dreams. Heaven.

About the Author: Kim Cooper Findling

Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast but became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (expect a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Central Oregon Magazine” and the author of “Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, taking silly pictures with her iPhone, and camping with her husband and two daughters in the family tent trailer, Brutus.

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