Waterfall Wandering

Take the dog and kids and go chase waterfalls

1009532435 OR Med Falls
Award-winning photo of National Creek Falls by Dustin Peters.

Waterfalls are magical. There is something about cascading water that fascinates us, from ethereal trickling ribbons to dramatic, roaring plunges. There is a whole culture of waterfall seekers out there. If you’re looking for a reason to get outdoors and explore this summer, listen to the siren call of waterfalls. Oregon is blessed with more than 200 of them, some of the best within an easy drive of Medford.

Of the waterfall trails on this list, most guides and experienced hikers rate them as “easy,” but one person’s easy can be another person’s hard. Some obstacles on trails, such as stairs or downed trees, may be challenging for some.

ROGUE RIVER-SISKIYOU NATIONAL FOREST

About an hour from Medford, the Prospect area boasts several waterfalls worth visiting to get away from the summer heat. Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls are the most impressive and just a few hundred yards apart. Nearby, explore Pearsony Falls as well as the upper end of the Avenue of the Boulders. National Creek Falls is a bit further away, about 1 ½-hour drive.

MILL CREEK FALLS

1006668131 Falls2

Photo by Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune.

Waterfall type: Plunge

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 1.4 miles 

Elevation gain: 164 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: A wide, tree-lined trail leads to the Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint waterfall that plunges 173-feet into the Rogue River. 

BARR CREEK FALLS 

1006668131 Falls3

Photo by Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune.

Waterfall type: Plunge

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 1.4 miles 

Elevation gain: 164 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: Just 200 yards downstream from Mill Creek Falls, a rock viewpoint overlooks Barr Creek Falls that drops 175 feet, one of the tallest waterfalls in Southern Oregon.

PEARSONY FALLS

1006668131 Falls1 1

Photo by Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune.

Waterfall type: Cascade

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 1.2 miles 

Elevation gain: 196 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: A lush green hike past mossy trees along the Mill Creek leads to the falls.

 

NATIONAL CREEK FALLS

1009532435 OR Med Falls

Photo by Dustin Peters.

Waterfall type: Cascade

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 0.7 miles 

Elevation gain: 150 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: The ½-mile trail through shaded forest can get steep in some places, but leads to the mystical, misty falls. Mosquitoes are plentiful and downed trees can be slippery.

UMPQUA NATIONAL FOREST

The North Umpqua Waterfall Trail is a gorgeous natural gem near enough to go for the day, or better yet, spend a night or two and see it all. Depending on where you start, you can reach these waterfalls within two to three hours of driving. Highway 138 between Roseburg and Diamond Lake will lead you to these and more.

WARM SPRINGS FALLS

WarmSpringsFalls2

Photo by Rebekka Nicol.

Waterfall type: Block

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 0.6 miles 

Elevation gain: 65 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: A short, flat trail leads to the top of the falls, which drop thunderously to a pool below. There is no access to the base of the falls. Depending on when you arrive in summer, there may be wild rhododendrons blooming, enhancing the view.

LEMOLO FALLS

Lemolo Falls

Waterfall type: Horsetail

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 3.2 miles 

Elevation gain: 285 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Moderate to difficult, based on skill

Description: The rocky trail zigzags down the canyon to the base of the crashing waterfall that drops more than 100 feet. The hike back up is steep and strenuous for some. Lemolo Falls get its name from the Chinook Indian language meaning “wild” or “untamed.”

CLEARWATER FALLS

Clearwater falls

Waterfall type: Segmented steep cascade

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 0.2 miles 

Elevation gain: 32 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash?

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: A short trail by moss-covered rocks and trees along the creek, this serene waterfall cascades 30 feet. The pretty pool is perfect for kicking off shoes and feeling the chilly water.

WHITEHORSE FALLS

Whitehorse falls

Photo Mail Tribune. 

Waterfall type: Punchbowl

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 0.1 miles 

Elevation gain: 3 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: The Whitehorse Falls viewpoint is right in the parking lot. To get a closer view, you can follow the short trail to the pool in front of the falls, which drop 14 feet.

WATSON FALLS

19 OV WatsonFalls jpg

Martin Stiles of Medford checks out Watson Falls, the highest waterfall in southwestern Oregon at 272 feet. Courtesy Martin Stiles.

Waterfall type: Plunge

Hike type: Loop

Distance: 0.6 miles 

Elevation gain: 524 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Moderate

Description: The trail leads through a mossy forest to a wooden bridge that crosses Watson Creek, offering an excellent view of the majestic falls. Keep going and you’ll reach the highest point of the trail. At almost 300 feet, Watson Falls is the third tallest waterfall in Oregon, and the tallest one in Southern Oregon. If the trail is a bit above skill level, you can get a glimpse of the waterfall from the parking lot.

TOKETEE FALLS

1004254245 OR Med Toketee
Photo by Bill Bartlett.

Waterfall type: Tiered

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 0.8 miles 

Elevation gain: 111 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels able to climb stairs

Description: The ferny trail through an old-growth forest along a beautiful gorge leads to steep stairs up to the viewing platform that overlooks the two-tiered falls. Toketee, which means “pretty” or “graceful” in the Chinook language, is one of the best-known waterfalls in Oregon, often described as “breathtaking,” “stunning” and “awe-inspiring.”

SUSAN CREEK FALLS

Susan Creek Falls

Waterfall type: Fan

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 1.6 miles 

Elevation gain: 105 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Good for all skill levels

Description: A flat trail surrounded by mossy trees that is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly.

FALL CREEK FALLS

01 2dec TRAV Fall creek fal

Photo by Steve Dieffenbacher.

Waterfall type: Tiered/fan

Hike type: Out and back

Distance: 1.1 miles 

Elevation gain: 295 feet 

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Rating: Easy to moderate, based on skills

Description: Hike along the Fall Creek amid the firs and ferns and through a rock crevasse to the lower tier of the falls, which drop over 100 feet. If you want to continue on, you can reach the top tier of the falls and a view of the valley. There are a few moderately steep climbs and logs to go under or over.

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More to Explore

Be prepared

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Mosquitoes: Waterfalls and mosquitoes tend to go together. Hikers to these falls report voracious mosquito activity at times. Bring your bug spray, and reapply it if you get wet or misted.

Poison oak: The risk of coming in contact with poison oak is a given when hiking in Oregon. Be sure you know how to recognize poison oak’s three leaves, which change seasonally from green to orange to purplish red. Bring a small bottle of dish soap or outdoor skin cleansers, such as Tecnu or Zanfel, to remove the oil as quickly as possible if touched.

Mud: Waterfalls and rivers often mean mud. Wear shoes and clothes that can take it.

Downed trees: Some paths to the waterfalls on this list require climbing over or under fallen trees, which may change your opinion on “easy” versus “moderate.”

Getting wet: Several waterfall pools are too entrancing to pass up. Bring water shoes or flipflops to exchange for your hiking shoes. A rain poncho is also handy near the mistier waterfalls.

Additional waterfalls in or near Jackson County

  • Alkali Falls
  • Butte Falls
  • Crowfoot Falls
  • Dillon Falls
  • Highway Falls
  • Muir Creek Falls
  • Rough Rider Falls

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