The North Willamette NF is abundant with cascading water in the Winter & Spring. This is a drive I enjoy taking through the Opal Creek recreation area, then follow Cedar Creek up and back into the upper Cedar Creek drainage. In Winter it is an interesting drive that normally requires 4WD with beautiful scenery and small to large waterfalls. Note: pictures are from two different visits in Dec 2012.
The route starts at the FSR 2207 bridge where the junction of Little North Santiam & Cedar Creek is.
Once you cross the bridge, Cedar Creek will be on your left. This first stretch of the creek has interesting drops and rapids to enjoy while heading to our first stop, Sullivan falls. It is a roadside falls on the right, which is a 150 – 200’ tall depending on how many of the upper steps you count. You can easily spend hours here depending how much climbing along the side of the falls and Cedar creek you want to do.
After Sullivan falls; 2207 continues paralleling Cedar Creek up for a couple of miles. You will cross a small bridge. Now Cedar Creek is on your right. As the road gently climbs for a few miles; it leaves Cedar creek.
You will reach a junction; 2207 takes a sharp left. You’ll want to go straight on 225 and head into the upper Cedar Creek drainage. A short distance in is a nice falls next to the road on the left.
About a mile and half in is my normal stopping point to hike from. On the left you will see an old spur road, just past it 225 veers left, on the right is a nice camping / parking spot with a nice view of the ridge.
This is where the waterfall “hunting” part of the adventure begins. I hike along the road, listening for the roar of falling water, then bushwhack toward the creek. The terrain included thick bush, downed trees, slippery rocks and hunting for safe paths down to creek level. For me this is great fun and exercise, with the reward of wonderful natural beauty.
Here is a sample of what you will find.
There is about a mile at the end of the canyon I have yet to reach. Based on the topographical map; there is a very high possibility of some nice falls there in the right conditions.
On the way down I like to stop on the other side of the upper Cedar Creek bridge. There are some interesting smaller falls just pass the bridge.
From Salem, go east on Hwy 22 about 27 miles
Take a left on North Fork Road, just pass Mehama
Follow for about 17 miles to the junction with 2207, the last couple of miles are gravel, turn right on 2207.
In about 4 miles, is the start point, the bridge at Shade Grove CG.
It’s worth noting this area can get a fair amount of snow. There have been times I could barely make it to Sullivan Falls. When exploring in Winter conditions, please go properly prepared for the conditions and make sure someone knows your planned route and when to expect you back.
The area has a number of other notable falls worth visiting on subsequent adventures; Salmon, Henline, Sawmill, Elkhorn and Triple to name a few.
Happy Waterfall Hunting!