Upper North Falls, Oregon Overview
Upper North Falls is perhaps the most overlooked waterfall in Silver Falls State Park. While it is a part of the Trail of Ten Falls Loop, it is located off a spur trail from the North Falls parking area and is therefore often skipped. It is the first of six waterfalls along North Silver Creek within the park and requires only a short half-mile hike to view it.
The fact that many miss this incredible cascade is good news for those who know about it! Although access is fairly limited in terms of viewing angles, Upper North Falls is a stunning display of nature’s artistry and one of the more photogenic falls in the park. It is also one of the few waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park that you can stand at the base of.
Tumbling 65ft in a broad curtain, the waterfall can be almost as wide as it is tall during the rainy season. Not only is the waterfall itself a true gem, but the walk there is a treat too. Along the path, the moss-covered walls have seasonal small waterfalls cascading down them, adding a little extra magic to the walk.
It is also one of the few waterfalls you can walk to with your four-legged friends as dogs are permitted on this trail.
Upper North Falls Quick Facts
- Location: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
- GPS Coordinates: 44.88313, -122.61415
- Height: 65ft (20m)
- Avg Width: 30ft (9m)
- Max Width: 60ft (18m)
- Seasonality: Upper North Falls is a perennial waterfall, flowing year-round.
- Viewing Angles: Front-on, base only. No access to top or sides.
Location of Upper North Falls and How to Get There
Driving Directions to Upper 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 Upper North Falls 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 Upper 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 Upper North Falls.
Additionally, both Winter Falls Trailhead and North Falls Day Use Area are over a mile hike from Upper 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 Upper North Falls
The hike to Upper North Falls is only 0.3 miles from the North Falls Trailhead. From the parking lot, cross the footbridge and keep right at the junction. The trail will take you under the footbridge and alongside the river walking upstream until you reach Upper North Falls. It is an easy, mostly flat walk that is well signposted.
Upper North Falls Photography Tips
You will discover that viewing angles are very limited for photographing Upper North Falls. The trail dead-ends into the water and, unless you are able to get wet, limit you to one front-on vantage point.
The first thing we recommend is adding a human element, preferably wearing something colorful, to add scale and a pop of color to the scene. The person can go in the water if the weather is warm enough, or on the log as seen above.
If you don’t mind putting your feet in the water, you will have access to some unique compositions. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to get your tripod set in the water from as far back as you can get, minimizing the spray coming from the falls.
You will need to bring lots of microfiber cloths to keep the lens dry at this one, so be prepared! To get a shot without water droplets all over the lens, try setting your camera up on a tripod and using a 2-second timer.
Because you can get above the water, a long exposure works fantastic. This creates a soft, dreamlike feeling in the photograph! If you are wondering how that works, be sure to check out our long exposure waterfall photography to learn everything you need to know!
Equipment for Photographing Upper 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 Upper North Falls that are all worth visiting and exploring. These include:
South Falls – 3 miles
Lower South Falls – 3.5 miles
Lower North Falls – 2.2 miles
Double Falls – 2.3 miles
Drake Falls – 2.2 miles
Middle North Falls – 2 miles
Winter Falls – 1.7 miles
Twin Falls – 1.6 miles
North Falls – 0.4 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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