Willamette National Forest has no shortage of incredible natural sites in Oregon and this trail which hits all three falls in a loop is no exception.
About The Hike
An essential hike for Oregon waterfall chasers, the Salt Creek - Diamond Creek Falls Trail hits the best that Oregon has to offer. The additional section on the Vivian Lake Trail #3662 is an added bonus that is like finding hidden treasure.
I hiked this in a clockwise direction saving Salt Creek Falls for last because it's close to the parking lot and has a great side trail to amazing viewpoints and wanted as much time as needed to shoot here.
Starting clockwise, you head away from the manmade concrete walkway and past the picnic table area in the forest.
You reach a sign with mileage before crossing a bridge and the first intersection of the loop. From here I would go straight and head off to Fall Creek Falls first.
Salt Creek - Diamond Creek Falls Trail:
Distance: 5.4 Miles
Ascent: 1040 feet
Fall Creek Falls
Not to be confused with the countless other 'Fall Creek' waterfalls around the US, this is a little known spot and definitely not what you're used to seeing if you type in Fall Creek to google.
The trail adds an extra two miles of an out & back hike to the main loop but if you have the time it's definitely worth it. You get a great section of forest in the Diamond Peak Wilderness that cross train tracks and climbs up towards Vivian Lake.
The falls themselves are great for their unknown status, a cliffside cascading waterfall descending deep down into the Fall Creek gorge below.
You can find the trail split for these as you approach Diamond Creek Falls intersection.
Diamond Creek Falls
Once coming back from Fall Creek Falls you'll reach the intersection that will take you to the upper viewing area of Diamond Creek Falls and then back to the loop trail and down to another side trail that goes to the base of the falls.
Diamond creek is a massive waterfall that is large, wide, and has a powerful flow. I loved how the water cascades down the rocky cliff outcroppings.
You'll also get a good set of log stairs and log bridge crossings when navigating the trail around these falls.
Salt Creek Falls
This is the main attraction of the area by far and steals almost all the crowds (hell yeah), leaving the trails to the other two waterfalls nearly untouched.
Salt Creek Falls is a 286 foot single-plunge waterfall making it - according to the US Forest Service - the second tallest waterfall in Oregon. I would argue that Watson Falls is the second tallest in Oregon (if not counting Mist Falls which is seasonal) making this actually the third highest.
Nonetheless, this is an astonishing waterfall that is hard to capture the full plunge in one picture. The location of Salt Creek Falls is on the other side of the gorge that the loop trail comes back along.
You'll get back from the main loop and head past the parking area onto the stone walkways that line the gorge. These have several good viewing platforms with rails but the best is if you continue a quarter mile down the path.
This newly built switchback path will take you to a wooden viewing platform half way down the gorge.
From here you can go on some sketchy descents a little further below for some insane scenes and vantage points that include massive tree stumps in front of the falls.
If you wish to go to the true base of the falls there are ropes to assist with the steep climb down.
Getting There and Important Information
These set of three falls are located at a trailhead off of Willamette Highway in central Oregon. The nearest major city is Bend, Oregon at about an hour and a half away.
The area experiences heavy usage but the trails I discussed further from Salt Creek Falls remain relatively crowd free at peak times.
If camping I would backpack over towards the Fall Creek Falls area in the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
A $5 use fee is required for parking and hiking at this location.
Bathroom and garbage facilities are located at the trailhead.
Hope you enjoyed hearing about these falls and get to check out all three in your next Oregon adventure!
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