At 292 feet, Watson Falls is the highest waterfall in Umpqua and the third highest in all of Oregon. Close to the more famous Toketee Falls, this waterfall should be added to your Umpqua road trip itinerary.
About The Hike
The hike begins by crossing over the NF-37 road before continuing in the woods and following Watson Creek upstream the rest of the way. The hike to the falls is short and can be done using the loop trail and a couple side trails to get to the base of the falls and the upper viewpoint.
The base of the falls uses an unmarked side trail to get you to the rocky stream flow from which you can follow the path on the side to the base of the falls.
Watson Falls is different than other Oregon waterfalls in the sense that it's flow is not consistent. I've seen pictures of the falls flowing hard and the lower rocky stream gushing however this was not the case when I visited in the drought month of September.
They do flow year round however and are worthwhile to visit at anytime during the year.
The lower flow of water makes the falls quite interactive if you don't mind getting wet. The falls plunge 292 feet creating a variable shift in where the water hits the ground based on wind conditions. The waterfall was acting like one of those sprinklers that flops around and changes directions and you never know when you're going to get soaked until it's too late.
Stay far and clear from the base of the falls and the mossy rocks if you're looking to stay dry - I was surprised by how far back I could set up my camera and tripod for shots only to still be drying off my gear after every placement.
From the bottom of the falls there is a sketchy side path that will take you to the upper view point of the falls where there is a fence, trail, and bench. Alternatively you can double back downstream, link up to the main trail, and continue heading up further on the loop trail to reach this point.
The loop is a mile long and once you leave the falls it's only a matter of 10 minutes before you're back at your car in the parking lot.
Distance: 1.0 Miles
Ascent: 524 feet
Getting There and Important Information
The parking lot is located off of Route 135 (North Umpqua Highway) on NF-37 forest road. The area has space for maybe twenty or so cars and this spot tends to stay a bit less congested as the popular Toketee Falls nearby.
No camping or overnight parking is allowed here.
The trailhead has concrete outhouse style bathroom facilities and garbage cans.
Looking for another cool adventure in the area?
Umpqua Hot Springs which has now reopened (as of September 2021) is located less than five minutes drive along the same road Toketee Falls parking lot is off of. See this article from Go Wander Wild on what to expect and how to get there. Umpqua Hot Springs
Still looking to satisfy your waterfall cravings? Toketee Falls is located five minutes down the road on North Umpqua Highway and features one of the most incredible waterfalls in the pacific northwest! Check it out here!
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