Follow any river or stream far enough up and into the hill country and you are liable to find cascades of crystal clear water plummeting into splash pools. Waterfalls hold us hypnotized with their beauty and grace. Waterfalls also make great day hikes! In the foothills and mountains, feeder streams often inhabit the same geology, giving day hikers the chance to see and photograph several waterfalls in an afternoon or weekend of hiking.
The North Umpqua in Oregon provides such an area. Beautiful falls such as Fall Creek Falls, Cavitt Creek Falls, Clearwater Falls, Toketee Falls, Susan Creek Falls, Watson Falls and others provide short hikes around a mile or less to some of the most striking scenery you will ever witness. If it’s hot out, the spray and swimming at the bottom of the falls provide epic relief. The caves that often form behind the falls are fun to explore and poke around in. Just be careful because the rocks are slick and wet.
Some cascading creeks allow explorers to climb past multiple falls. Remote Grotto Falls is one of these. As you pass each fall you climb into less and less explored wilderness. At one such wilderness hike on Rainbow Creek, we encountered a stunning waterfall. Much of the beauty of that seldom seen fall was lost in the brushy climb and steep mountaineering required to get to the top. I’ll likely never be back to Rainbow Falls, although the memory of that trail-less natural wonder remains.
Waterfalling is free family fun in the great outdoors, from the great Niagara Falls to smaller unnamed falls on unnamed creeks in the hills. The grace and beauty of waterfalls and the cold clear mountain streams is worth exploring from state to state and year after year.