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7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water

10.02.14

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7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water

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  • White River Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • South Falls (left) and Lower South Falls (right), Trail of 10 Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • Upper Butte Creek Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • Lower Butte Creek Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • Lower Lewis River Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • Middle Lewis River Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • Spirit Falls on the Little White Salmon River.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • Lower South Fork Clackamas Falls.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
  • South Fork Clackamas Falls in the distance.- 7 Great Reasons to Go Outside in the Fall, Part 3: High Water
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The following is the third of a seven part series. Part three is focused on waterfalls with the return of high water flows. The remaining articles will be published, two per week, throughout October.

Part 1: Fall Colors
Part 2: Migratory Species
Part 3: High Water
Part 4: Mushrooms
Part 5: Desert Visits
Part 6: Hot Springs
Part 7: Off-Season Lodge Rates

Most people feel an overwhelming desire to hunker down inside when it rains, but for me it's a sign of return higher water flows. More water makes for more spectacular waterfalls, and visiting them when it's raining is even better with no crowds to speak of. Kayakers rejoice as well, for obvious reasons. The following recommendations are a few of the waterfalls I like to visit on rainy days in particular.

White River Falls

White River Falls is also known as Celestial Falls. It was once a badge of honor for any diehard kayaker, but this two-tiered waterfall is no longer open to paddlers. Today it remains a dramatic sight for hikers and photographers alike. If you visit the falls, be sure to explore the remains of a now abandoned hydroelectric power station on the same grounds.

Silver Falls, Trail of 10 Falls

Despite being turned down twice for National Park status, this nearly 8-mile hike shows off Oregon's second greatest concentration of waterfalls. The area features paved trails in the more treacherous sections, making for solid footing even on the rainiest of fall days.

Butte Creek Falls

Just down the road from the turn off for Abiqua Falls, Butte Creek Falls is a set of two must-see cascades with zero crowds. Made from the same basalt flow as Silver Falls State Park, the 25-foot Upper Butte Creek Falls features its own undercut cavern, while the 78-foot Lower Butte Creek Falls makes a more impressive plunge. Be prepared for heights with exposure for the best views of Lower Butte Creek Falls.

Lewis River Falls

Just over a two hour drive from Portland, the waterfalls making up Lewis River Falls are located in an extremely remote stretch of Washington's wilderness in between Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. Visiting here is well worth the drive. In addition to the three impressive falls, you get to explore a stunning old-growth forest and you'll likely have the place all to yourself.

Spirit Falls Hike

Ask any experienced kayaker around the Pacific Northwest and they'll surely know of the grandeur of Spirit Falls. It's the tallest drop on the Little White Salmon River, one of the nation's most challenging rivers to run. However, most hikers have never heard of it. Follow our guide, and you'll find an incredible cascade rarely viewed from land.

Clackamas + Memaloose Falls

This is arguably one of my favorite hikes in northwestern Oregon. The unmaintained, steep, and what may be considered treacherous trail features three unheard of waterfalls. This includes the spectacular 120-foot South Fork Clackamas Falls. Countless tunnels abound from an abandoned hydroelectric project. The trail crosses a few decaying bridges, making this an adventure for those who enjoy a challenge. Be careful and come prepared if you choose to explore this area.

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