Impressive Watson Falls

Andrea Niemiec, Guest Author
March 2, 2010 (Updated February 29, 2012)

One of the highest waterfalls in Oregon, Watson Falls plunges 272 feet to its moss-covered base, and is an easy 0.8 mile hike round-trip with a 300 foot elevation gain. Located along Highway 138, Watson Falls is one of a string of waterfalls whose trail heads are easily accessed from the highway, and is a quick stop during any trip through the area.

The Watson Falls trail leaves from a parking lot, and climbs up a short, somewhat steep but well-tended path, and crosses a series of bridges at the base of the falls. Pause here for an attractive view of the falls, and then proceed along a path to your left for a closer view of the basin several hundred feet farther along the path. Return back down the side trail to the juncture and complete the loop back to the parking lot for a total hike of approximately 0.8 miles.

Highway 138 parallels the North Umpqua River, and connects Roseburg with Crater Lake. While the drive is of exceptional scenic beauty, it also offers unrivaled access to many recreational activities on the river. The North Umpqua River has a Wild and Scenic designation for 33.8 miles, and you will find opportunities to fly fish, hike, backpack, camp, mountain bike, swim, and raft along its class II-class V rapids. The North Umpqua Trail is a 79-mile long trail open to backpackers, campers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, and parallels the North Umpqua River for most of its length.

Getting There: From Roseburg, take Highway 138 for approximately 61 miles. Turn south on Road 37, and park at the trail head parking lot approximately 0.2 miles down the road. The trail head has picnic benches, pit toilets, and interpretive signs.

Andrea Niemiec is a veteran (and survivor) of the cruise ship industry. She is currently studying mathematics and education at the University of Oregon, and dreams of teaching overseas and traveling to all of the countries on her world map shower curtain. If you’d like to read about more of her adventures, visit her blog, Shoestring Traveler, at