Just 70 miles away, over 600,000 people struggle through congested traffic in the city of Portland, Oregon. I sip a glass of wine on the porch of a quaint wooden cabin with a bed, a toilet, a sink and a tiny wardrobe. Fifty yards down a path through thick ferns and brush is the bath house shared by all eight Upper Smith Creek cabins. I won’t be sharing with anyone; it is the middle of August but my car holds court over an otherwise empty parking lot. Although there is a conference in session half a mile away at the Silver Falls Conference Center, I hear none of their activity. Nirvana!
Silver Falls State Park is Oregon’s largest. This remarkable pocket of temperate rainforest was first inhabited by indigenous Americans of the Kalapuya, Molalla, and Chinook cultures. Early European descendants were fur trappers of the early 1800s. Today, a hodge-podge of people cluster in the day use area and the most easily accessed waterfalls of the Trail of Ten Falls, an 8.7-mile loop that offers pleasant hiking and strolling to and sometimes behind the magnificent falls. In all, there are 25 miles of hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails in the park.
North Falls – 136 feet
During my too brief stay here, I had time to do only about half of the loop trail, even then, I didn’t have to backtrack as there are loops within the main loop. I was a kid in a candy store as I marched the empty trails. I saw only a handful of people, however, I’m sad to report that I saw plenty of evidence of people who don’t know how to behave in the woods. Ladies, there is something worse than having no toilet paper; me finding evidence that you did have paper is far, far worse! If you can’t drip dry, hold it!
At one creek, the sudden overhead wawhoomping of a great blue heron scared the bejeezus out of me. It took off so near my head that if I’d been a bit quicker I could have had a feather for my bonnet.
I’ve discovered another place that deserves a second and longer visit. This is beginning to sound like a theme.