Oregon – Winter Waterfall Viewing – North Willamette NF – 01/20/13

On Sunday, four of us met to head into the North Willamette NF to enjoy some waterfalls, hiking and snowy back country driving.  After a foggy, sometimes icy drive to the meeting point, it was a welcome change to have the fog clear and see blue skies as we headed up North Fork Road. The paved portion of North Fork Road was icy but uneventful. Shortly after hitting gravel, it transitioned from patchy to packed snow.

Our first stop came after five miles of gravel road; Henline Falls. North Fork Road turns into FSR 2209. About 1000’ past the FSR 2207 junction is the Henline Falls / Ogle Mountain trail head. It’s an easy one mile hike to Henline Falls which is recorded at 126 feet. To the right of the falls is the Silver King Mine shaft. Just before the falls you climb through what remains of the mines tramway footings.

Compact Camping at Henline Falls

Compact Camping at Henline Falls Mine

Compact Camping at Henline Falls Mine looking out

Next we headed about two miles farther up FSR 2209 to Stack Creek. The snow got deeper but was easily passable in 4WD. On the east side of the road, is a very large drop which appears to form a nice waterfall but we can’t see it. On the west side of the road, you can see the creek cascading through the trees. It will be worth stop in again when it’s snow free and safer to bushwhack up the creek on the west side.

Compact Camping WF Excursion Rigs
Compact Camping at Stack Creek

We then headed back down and took FSR 2207, which was patchy packed snow & icy transitioning to packed snow shortly before the Shade Grove Campground Bridge.

Compact Camping WF Bridge with Rigs

As we climbed towards Sullivan falls the snow got deeper. I started have traction problems just before the falls. After a few attempts, I got going again and we arrived at Sullivan falls. It’s a great 150 – 200’ tall roadside falls, depending on how many of the upper steps you count. After some lunch and enjoying the view; we decided to head back down verses trying to push farther up along Cedar Creek into deeper snow.

Willamette Forest Trail with Rigs

Compact Camping at Sullivan Falls


Willamette Forest with Compact Camping and Friends

We backtracked down FSR 2207 to Three Pools. This is an area of interesting rock formations, some nice pools and some small cascading falls. We hiked around trying not to slip on the ice and chipping smooth rocks free for skipping.

Three Pools with Compact Camping

Willamette Forest Three Pools with Compact Camping and Friends

We continued down FSR 2207 & North Fork road making our final stop of the day at Salmon falls. First we climbed down for views from the river. Next we hiked around to the top of the falls and carefully climbed around on the snowy / icy rock outcropping which forms the falls. Even with it being cold and icy it was a very nice day.

Salmon Falls with Compact Camping

Salmon Falls With Compact Camping and Friends

If you venture into the area, it’s worth noting that it can get a fair amount of snow in the winter. When exploring in winter conditions, please go properly prepared and make sure someone knows your planned route and when to expect you back. Also be careful of icy conditions around the falls.

Basic Directions:
From Salem (Oregon), go east on Hwy 22 about 27 miles
Take a left on North Fork Road
Remainder of directions covered above


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