Locals Guide: Winter Falls, Oregon in Silver Falls State Park

Long exposure photography of the tall and slender Winter Falls on the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon.
Admire the tall and slender Winter Falls on the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon.

Winter Falls Description / Overview

Winter Falls is a tall but slender seasonal waterfall located in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. At 134 feet, it is actually among the longest drops in the park when it has water.

Unfortunately, as the name suggests, Winter Falls is only present throughout the rainier winter months. During the summer, the waterfall is reduced to a trickle or even dry.

Those that wish to see the falls need to plan their trip for the winter or early spring when precipitation levels are highest. It is one of ten waterfalls along the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, a beautiful hike that has you traversing through the lush rainforest past a series of cascades.

Find out everything you need to know for visiting Winter Falls below!

Winter Falls Quick Facts

  • Location: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
  • GPS Coordinates: 44.88444, -122.64083
  • Height: 134 feet (41 meters)
  • Avg Width: 5 feet (1.5 meters)
  • Seasonality: Typically flows about 7 months, drying out in the summer and early autumn months.
  • Viewing Angles: Front, base, and left side. No access to top-down or right-side views.

Location of Winter Falls and How to Get There

Google Map image showing the exact location of Winter Falls in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon.

Driving Directions to Winter 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 amplest parking and facilities, including restrooms, water fountains, a cafe, and the lodge. However, Winter Falls trailhead is closest to Winter Falls.

With this in mind, if you are planning on hiking the Trail of Ten Falls you will likely want to navigate to the South Falls Day Use Area. However, if you’re only planning on taking the short hike down to Winter Falls, then you will want to park at the Winter Falls Trailhead.

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 Winter Falls

There are a number of different ways to hike to Winter Falls.

The shortest and easiest option is to park at the Winter Falls Trailhead and follow the Winter Falls Trail a short 0.2 miles to reach the base of the falls.

However, we would highly recommend planning to visit at least some, if not all, of the other waterfalls along the Trail of Ten Falls.

If you are willing to do this incredible hike, begin from South Falls Day Use Area where you will have a couple of options.

The most direct route is to follow the Rim Trail for 1.4 miles to Winter Falls. From here you can continue on to a variety of different loop trails or return along the same way. Alternatively, you can follow the Canyon Trail then the Winter Trail which will be 3.2 miles. Again, once you arrive at Winter Falls you have several options to continue hiking or return to the parking lot.

Winter Falls Photography Tips

Winter Falls photography featuring a hiker on the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park.
Consider introducing the human element and including the trail for Winter Falls photos.

Winter Falls is perhaps the most challenging waterfall to capture in Silver Falls State Park. First, it only exists about half the year! Second, it is incredibly tall and slender, making it hard to squeeze into a frame. Finally, many of the views are obscured from distance.

In order to add scale to this extremely tall stream, it is useful to include the human element. Consider adding a hiker and shooting from the trail in order to achieve this. The views will be somewhat blocked by branches, but not so much as to be distracting.

Last I recommend “dragging the shutter” for less forceful falls such as this. By using a long exposure, the photographer creates a dreamlike, ethereal element to the image. If you are a beginner and need some help with this, check out our comprehensive guide to long exposure waterfall photography to learn everything you need to know!

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 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.

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A comprehensive travel and photography guide to visiting Winter Falls, Oregon, located on the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park.

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