North Falls, Oregon Overview
Along the North Silver Creek in Silver Falls State Park, you will discover four waterfalls with “North Falls” in the name. These include Upper, Lower, Middle, and just plain old North Falls. Of the four, this is the most accessible and is located less than half a mile from the North Falls Parking Area.
There are several ways to access the falls, and I urge everyone visiting the park to make time for this one. Whether you choose to do it at part of the 7.8 mile Trail of Ten Falls loop or just zip in quickly from the parking area, it is one of the must-see features. While it is only the third highest waterfall in the park at 136ft, it is certainly one of the best!
Perhaps the most impressive views are from behind the falls, creating the feeling of witnessing them from a cave! The trail opens up behind the falls to a huge chamber where there’s even a bench to take a minute and just enjoy the moment. The enormity of this cavern echoes the crashing of the falls, amplifying the sound and power of the water. Because the trail is so far from the waterfall, it is also the only one you can walk under without likely getting wet! It is easily one of the best experiences in the Pacific Northwest.
Read below to learn everything you need to know about visiting North Falls, Oregon.
North Falls Quick Facts
- Location: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
- GPS Coordinates: 44.88489, -122.62267
- Height: 136ft (41.5m)
- Avg Width: 15ft (4.6m)
- Seasonality: North Falls is a perennial waterfall, flowing year round.
- Viewing Angles: Both sides and behind. No access to top or base.
Location of North Falls, Oregon and How to Get There
Driving Directions to 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 closest parking lot to North Falls, as you might expect, is the North Falls Trailhead. The parking lot has more limited spaces than the larger South Falls Days Use Area, but is only a 0.3-mile hike to North Falls.
While the South Falls Day Use Area has the most parking and facilities, including restrooms, water fountains, a cafe, and the lodge, it is also the furthest from North Falls.
Additionally, both Winter Falls Trailhead and North Falls Day Use Area are over a mile hike from North Falls.
With the above in mind, you will likely want to navigate to the North Falls Trailhead. However, if you are planning to complete the entire Trail of Ten Falls Loop, this can be started from any of the parking lots. Directions can be easily found by searching for North Falls Parking in Google Maps! You can also find driving directions to Silver Falls from Portland here or from Eugene here.
Hiking Directions to North Falls
The hike down to North Falls is only 0.3 miles from the North Falls Trailhead. From the parking lot, cross the footbridge and keep left at the junction. You will see signs for North Falls and Canyon Trail. Along the way, you will pass a view looking down over the falls before continuing down a set of stairs to continue along the Canyon Trail and pass behind the waterfall.
There is also a roadside viewpoint of North Falls approximately one mile west of the North Falls Trailhead.
North Falls Photography Tips
Because you can walk around and behind the waterfall, photography at North Falls allows for more creativity than most other waterfalls. Ideally, it would be best to have two lenses available for photographing this one. A standard lens will be useful for capturing it from the trail, while a super-wide angle lens is ideal to photograph it from behind the falls.
If you do not have two lenses, there are other techniques you can try in order to get the scene in one frame. Perhaps the best method would be to shoot vertically and pano the shot from side to side, if possible. Otherwise, just find the angle you like best and try to include just enough of the cave at the top and bottom of your frame to provide context for the viewer.
Beyond these two obvious angles, you could also consider framing the waterfall as you continue along the Trail of Ten Falls. While some of the scale is lost, it does help create a Secret Garden feel while accentuating the rainforest scenery.
Last, I recommend using a long exposure to create a dreamlike, ethereal element to the image. 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!
Equipment for Photographing North 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 North Falls that are all worth visiting and exploring. These are listed below, including hike distances to each:
- Upper North Falls – 0.4 miles
- Twin Falls – 0.9 miles
- Middle North Falls – 1.4 miles
- Winter Falls – 1.6 miles
- Drake Falls – 1.5 miles
- Lower North Falls – 1.7 miles
- Double Falls – 1.7 miles
- Lower South Falls – 3 miles
- South Falls – 2.9 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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