Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
100.00 ft (30.48 m)
Trail type
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This short hike may not justify a long drive from Eugene or Bend, but if you are in the area exploring many of the other adventures on the McKenzie River, you will certainly want to make time for it.  The hike itself is a short loop that winds through lava fields and into dense forests where mosses and lichen thrive.  If you walk the route in a counter-clockwise direction you'll encounter the trail leading off to Lower Proxy Falls first. 

The falls appear in a natural clearing framed by dense old-growth cedar and Douglas fir, a bold frame for the light and misty elegance created by the 225-foot drop.  The face of the falls is narrow at the top and fans out into several streams that almost dissipate into the air.  Follow the trail down to the right for a more intimate view of the falls, and if you're a photographer, bring plenty of lens cloths for your camera.  You will have to hop over and around Proxy Creek as you make your way up to the base of the falls, where from afar what appears a gentle cascade turns into an overwhelming shower. 

Once you’ve dried yourself, head back to the main loop and continue in the counter-clockwise direction.  Soon you will find another trail leading to the right toward Upper Proxy Falls.  The Upper Proxy Falls actually stem from an unnamed creek and only gain their name from their proximity to their more impressive neighbor.  These falls are beautiful in their own right, however, and you can get an up-close perspective at their base.  At 130 feet, Upper Proxy Falls splits into two streams that slide down the steep basalt face before converging into a mess of downed trees and tumbling into a pool at the base.

To return, simply continue on the main trail in the counter-clockwise direction.  You will re-enter the lava field portion of the loop before descending back to the trailhead parking area.

Note: Highway 242 is not maintained in the winter.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Easy loop. Lava field. Two beautiful waterfalls.



Trailhead Elevation

3,173.00 ft (967.13 m)


Old-growth forest



Short tricky loop hike. Only from lower falls' viewpoint to the falls is moderate and other parts are all easy. If you want to take a photo on the log which is right in front of the falls, need to be really careful.
Can be a bit confusing finding the start of the trail to the viewing platform as the sign is small and not visible from the road. Just fins the gravel pit, park there and walk across the road until you see the trail down. If you're adventurous, continue walking down the road past the official trail. You'll find another steep trail that goes down to the base of the falls. At points there are ropes that have been placed to help with your descent. Take your time and watch your foot placement but it's well worth it as from the viewing platform not much of the falls can be seen.
Impressive lower falls, hard to take a good photo of upper falls (at noon). Crowds at lower falls. Some climbing and scrambling at lower falls to keep your feet dry. If your feet can get wet, it's an easy trip to the bottom of lower falls.
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