Middle North Falls 2024 Guide (Silver Falls Park, Oregon)

Long exposure landscape photography of Middle North Falls, Oregon in Silver Falls State Park.
The roaring Middle North Falls is perhaps the most powerful waterfall in Silver Falls State Park.

About Middle North Falls, Oregon: The Overview

As a professional landscape photographer, I consider Middle North Falls to be the best waterfall in Silver Falls State Park. These things are always subjective, but it is irrefutably on the top 3 by any metric.

While you can view the waterfall from the Trail of Ten Falls, it is well worth walking the short spur trail behind and around the falls.

It is one of four waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park that have access behind the waterfall. When it is really roaring, you can stand behind this powerful cascade and feel your breath get taken away… literally! A vacuum is caused by the moving water that will actually steal the air around you, and it is fantastic.

Beyond that, the opportunities for incredible waterfall photography are endless. Expect to spend a lot more time capturing the numerous angles of Middle North Falls than most others you will discover within Silver Falls!

View of Middle North Falls from the end of the spur trail

Middle North Falls Quick Facts

  • Location: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
  • GPS coordinates: 44.88861, -122.64306
  • Height: 106 feet (32 meters)
  • Elevation: 1190 feet
  • Avg Width: 50 feet (15 meters)
  • Max Width: 70 feet (21 meters)
  • Seasonality: Middle North Falls is a perennial waterfall, flowing year-round.
  • Viewing Angles: Both sides, behind, and front-on. Cannot access base or top.

Location of Middle North Falls and How to Get There

Looking back at Middle North Falls framed by a rock alcove.
Looking back at Middle North Falls framed by a rock alcove.

Driving Directions to Middle North 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. However, it is the furthest from Middle North Falls, requiring a 1.8-mile hike.

The closest parking lot to Middle North Falls is the Winter Falls Trailhead which only requires a 0.7-mile hike. The downside to this option is that parking is very limited at this trailhead.

Parking at the North Falls Day Use and Group Camp is the next closest option. However, if you’re planning on visiting multiple waterfalls as part of the Trail of Ten Falls, it will actually increase your overall hike time. This is due to this 0.5 mile walk each way from the parking lot to reach the main trail.

Finally, North Falls Trailhead is 1.6 miles from Middle North Falls and has fewer spaces than South Falls Day Use Area. This is only really a good option if you wish to hike a loop that includes North Falls, but excludes South Falls.

With all of this in mind, you will likely want to navigate to the South Falls Day Use Area for a longer loop hike or Winter Falls Trailhead for a short hike primarily to visit Middle North Falls. Directions can be easily found by searching for South Falls or Winter Falls Trailhead in Google Maps! You can also find driving directions to Silver Falls from Portland here or from Eugene here.

Hiking Directions to Middle North Falls

Middle North Falls, as seen from the Trail of Ten Falls with some autumn colors and a long exposure.
Middle North Falls, as seen from the Trail of Ten Falls with some autumn colors.

As mentioned within the driving directions above, there are four trailheads from which you can begin your hike.

If you plan on primarily visiting Silver Falls State Park to see Middle North Falls, your shortest hike will be from the Winter Falls Trailhead.
From here, follow the Winter Falls Trail for 0.5 miles until you reach the end of the trail. You will then turn left onto the Canyon Trail. Continue along the Canyon Trail for 0.2 miles to reach the spur for Middle North Falls.

For the ultimate hike, we’d strongly suggest completing the entire 7.8 mile Trail of Ten Falls.
You can begin this hike at any of the trailheads and it will take you past Upper Middle Falls, as well as 9 other waterfalls.

Middle North Falls Photography Tips

There are more opportunities for creative photography compositions at Middle North Falls than perhaps any other in the park. The most obvious vantage point is from the main trail. However, an off-shoot allows you to actually go all the way behind and around the falls!

A short exposure shows the power of the falls, while shooting wide to include the enclave provides context to the scene for the viewer.
A short exposure shows the power of the falls, while shooting wide to include the enclave provides context to the scene for the viewer.

With that in mind, the first recommendation we have is to explore! Go around, behind, above, and anywhere you can get to. Perhaps use the rocky enclave to frame the falls from behind. Experiment with long and short exposures to capture the different feelings of each. A long exposure will make the water appear soft, streaming, and dreamy, calming the waters. A short exposure will make it look forceful and powerful!

If you are still a beginner photographer, we have created a very helpful guide to long exposure waterfall photography that you may want to view and even print!

Using long exposure photography to soften the scene, complimenting the soft golden light and allowing for a more moody image at Middle North Falls, Oregon.
A long exposure softens the scene, complimenting the soft golden light and allowing for a more moody image at Middle North Falls, Oregon.

I also had fun playing with different zooms at this waterfall. From a frontal vantage point and shooting with a long exposure, the lines in the falls become clearly defined and separated. For the shot below, I ignored the bottom of the falls to accentuate the soft golden light, autumn tree color, and the log poking out. Even without seeing the entirety of the waterfall, the scale is apparent by using these features as subjects!

Equipment for Photographing Middle North Falls

A long exposure photograph of Middle North Falls with a sprinkling of fall colors taken by professional landscape photographer Adam Marland.

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 Middle North Falls that are all worth visiting and exploring. These include:

More Oregon & Related Guides

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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 .

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Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's “Chief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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