: South Falls at Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls Tour Route

September 21, 2011 (Updated September 1, 2017)
Distance: 55 m / 88 km
Driving time: 2-3 hours
Best time to drive: Year-round

A pleasing detour for I-5 travelers, this 55-mile/89-kilometer pastoral route loops through a verdant park filled with waterfalls and rolling farmlands with distant views of the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges.

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Woodburn to Mt. Angel

Shoppers often associate Woodburn with top-name designer goods and outlet bargains along I-5. Travel a few miles east to discover a productive agricultural area, too. The home of its founder, Jesse Settlemier, still stands proudly on a downtown corner. Nearby, a host of family-run Mexican restaurants line 99E and Front Street as testament to this historically Hispanic burg, which has the largest percentage of Latinos of any Oregon town.

Swiss-German heritage is evident in Mt. Angel, with its Bavarian-style architecture and a glockenspiel that plays four times a day. The community hosts the Pacific Northwest’s largest Oktoberfest every September.

Silverton

The route travels along OR-214 south toward Silverton, and the surrounding farms showcase some key Oregon crops, including hop vines (used in beer making), hazelnut groves and marionberries, a blackberry cultivar named after this county, Marion. A quick detour west on Downs Road leads to the 1917 Gallon House Covered Bridge, supposedly named for its covert whiskey sales during Prohibition. Silverton’s vibrant downtown makes a good lunch stop before an afternoon at the Oregon Garden, with 80 acres of specialty botanical gardens, concerts and other events. Stop for a look at the adjacent Frank Lloyd Wright Gordon House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Oregon.

Silver Falls

OR-214 twists and climbs past the Silverton Reservoir and through acre after acre of Christmas tree farms. Eventually they give way to a tall canopy of fir and hemlock as you approach Silver Falls State Park. More than 25 miles/40.2 kilometers of trail wind through this lush 9,000-acre park, Oregon’s largest. The Trail of Ten Falls passes above, below and even behind the park’s cascades, several more than 100 feet/30 meters high. Overlooks and short walks also provide worthy waterfall views.

The highway exits the south end of the park, descending out of forest and bending in broad S-curves through scenic farmland. Turn left on the Cascade Highway, passing through the rural hamlets of Sublimity, Aumsville and Turner to return to I-5.

Want more details?

Order a free Oregon Scenic Byways guide, or view a map of Silver Falls Tour Route online.

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Ask Oregon

What are some good drives to see waterfalls that are just a short hike from the road?

Thanks for the question!  There are some very easy-to-follow routes for waterfall lovers.  I recommend you either order a free copy of the Oregon Scenic Byways magazine or view it online as it really outlines the routes with beautiful pictures.  As far as the time of year, there will be more water at other times…

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