At more than 9,000 acres, Silver Falls State Park is Oregon’s largest state park, and it is home to Oregon’s second highest concentration of waterfalls after the Columbia River Gorge. To see this impressive collection of waterfalls, take the Trail of Ten Falls hike, starting from either the North Falls Trailhead or from the Silver Falls Lodge. Be sure to see the park's most visited waterfall, the 177-foot South Falls. You can also explore the park on the 24 miles of hiking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, or the four miles of bike paths. In terms of amenities, the park offers extensive picnic and sunbathing locations, swimming holes, a horse-based campground, a general campground, a conference center, a main lodge and gift shop, and a rentable old ranch barn.
After the area was extensively logged through the late 1800s, a local photographer named June D. Drake began a campaign to turn the area into a preserved park. It wasn’t until 1935, however, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt deemed the land a Recreational Demonstration Area. Roosevelt began two great job creation programs during his administration, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and it was the CCC that built this park, named simply “State Park #9”. Each of the 200 workers was paid $1 per day to build the park’s infrastructure, including the South Falls Lodge.
In its history there have been two attempts to designate the park a National Park, which would make it Oregon’s second national park after Crater Lake. Both campaigns, one by Drake and the other by Fred Girod of the Oregon House of Representatives in 2008, have been denied. If the state park also included more nearby falls such as 78-foot Butte Creek Falls or 92-foot Abiqua Falls, perhaps the bids might have a better chance. If you are visiting Oregon's Silver Falls State Park and you have the time, be sure to visit these neighboring falls; they are only 5 miles away as the crow flies, but the drive takes an hour and passes through the small town of Scotts Mills.