Drake Falls, Oregon Overview
At 27 feet tall, Drake Falls is the smallest waterfall in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. It is also the least accessible and is, therefore, a less renowned feature within the park. However, hikers will pass it organically on the Trail of Ten Falls and, as no detour is needed, it is worth stopping to enjoy however briefly.
Below you will find everything you need to know for visiting and photographing Drake Falls.
- Location: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
- GPS Coordinates: 44.89, -122.64611
- Height: 27ft (8m)
- Avg Width: 10ft (3m)
- Max Width: 35ft (10.6m)
- Seasonality: Drake Falls is a perennial waterfall, but has the smallest drop of the waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park.
- Viewing Angles: Top down and left-side only. No access to front, right side, or base views.
Location of Drake Falls and How to Get There
Driving Directions to Drake Falls
Silver Falls State Park is located on Highway 214 near Silverton, about 25 miles (40km) southeast of Salem and 55 miles (88km) south of Portland. There are four trailheads and parking lots for Silver Falls:
- South Falls Day Use Area
- North Falls Day Use and Group Camp
- North Falls Trailhead
- Winter Falls Trailhead
The South Falls Day Use Area has the most parking and facilities, including restrooms, water fountains, a cafe, and the lodge. Parking is limited at both the North Falls and Winter Falls trailheads. Unless you are camping at North Falls Group Camp, this option is less ideal as it includes a longer hike to the trail.
With the above in mind, and as it is unlikely you will solely be visiting Drake Falls, you will likely want to navigate to the South Falls Day Use Area. Directions can be easily found by searching for South Falls in Google Maps! You can also find driving directions to Silver Falls from Portland here or from Eugene here.
Hiking Directions to Drake Falls
The best way to reach Drake Falls is via the Trail of Ten Falls. Although Drake Falls itself may not be one of the best waterfalls in Oregon, this hiking trail takes you through the lush temperate rainforest and past 9 other impressive waterfalls. The hike is a 7.8-mile loop that can be started from any of the four trailheads.
Drake Falls Photography Tips
Because Drake Falls is so small, I recommend attempting some long exposure photography. As there is not as much visual interest, this effect at least provides some emotion to the quaint falls. Beginners, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to long exposure waterfall photography to learn everything you need to know regarding filters, settings, equipment, and technique!
Opportunities for creative compositions are very limited as visibility is restricted to a small platform and, additionally, there is a tree obstructing the view. A tall tripod was useful in getting the right angle but is not necessarily needed.
Beyond shooting with a long exposure, the only way to really add some spice to your photo is to time your visit for an autumn photo shoot. The fall colors provide just the slightest pop of color, which makes a big difference in this particular scene.
Equipment for Photographing Lower South Falls
While it is possible to capture long exposure photographs of waterfalls on your iPhone using the Live Mode option, for the best possible images you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:
- Camera: I use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo I took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Lens: The lens I use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. I also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you want to create a long exposure waterfall image. When traveling, I use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when I require something more stable, I use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on the water. The best CPL and ND filters I have found are the Quartzline from Polar Pro.
- Rain cover: Considering how much rain Silver Falls get, plus spray from the waterfalls, you may want to consider a rain cover for your camera. Another simpler, and great option, is a colorful umbrella… not only does it provide protection for you and your gear from the rain but can add a pop of color to photos!
- Microfiber cleaning cloths: You will want to bring several dry microfiber cloths to help clean your lens between shots. You will inevitably find plenty of spray getting onto the lens while photographing the waterfalls!
Other Waterfalls Nearby
If you have not already, you will definitely want to consult our comprehensive guide to The Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park to learn about the different options for hiking, camping, and planning your visit. As the name implies, there are 9 other waterfalls near Drake Falls that are all worth visiting and exploring. These are listed below with the hiking distances from Drake Falls:
- Lower North Falls – 0.1 miles
- Double Falls 0.2 miles
- Middle North Falls – 0.2 miles
- Twin Falls – 0.6 miles
- Winter Falls – 0.7 miles
- Lower South Falls – 1.4 miles
- South Falls – 2.2 miles
- North Falls – 1.5 miles
- Upper North Falls – 1.9 miles
We have a variety of guides to the Pacific Northwest that you may also find helpful, as well as instructional guides for learning photography.
Additionally, you are welcome to browse our Oregon professional photography gallery for prints and more inspiration ?
- Top 15 Oregon Waterfalls
- Waterfalls in Southern Oregon
- Best Places to Visit in Oregon
- Painted Hills of Oregon Guide (one of the 7 wonders of Oregon)
- Southern Oregon Coast Photography Locations
- Ultimate Guide to Visiting Thors Well
- Things to do on a Northern California Road Trip
- Photographing Olympic National Park
- Guide to Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Instructional Guides to Photography
- Long Exposure Waterfall Photography
- Photography Basics
- Night Photography
- Lightroom for Beginners
- Advanced Post-Processing
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