This week’s getaway may have you thinking you’re living in a distant state, but it really is true: Oregon does indeed have it’s own Niagara Falls!
Back-road adventures with a sneak peek at nature are the best! And it pays to go with someone who really knows the way – like George Buckingham, Hebo District Ranger for the Siuslaw National Forest.
“It’s a little more out of the way and characterized as more difficult with some steeper portions," said Buckingham. "But it’s also only a mile down the trail and then a mile back out.”
Our small hiking party sported cameras in hand and each had a mission in mind as we trekked a trail in the Oregon Coast Range that you’ve likely missed.
This is a place where the wet is often measured in feet not inches and we were determined to reach the well recognized waterfall name that may surprise you:
“We get a lot of questions about that and they wonder – ‘did you name it after Niagara Falls in New York?’ – No, it’s named after Niagara Creek…which is a tributary of the Nestucca River.”
It's a little known fact that Oregon owns it's own Niagara Falls.... It's not been borrowed from that distant state…and after a mile long hike and around a rocky bend, see that the signs fooled you: for here are two waterfalls for the price of one hike!
“Yes,, it’s amazing!” noted Buckingham with a wide smile. “We’re looking at Niagara Falls and Niagara creek down below us – but around the corner is the other part of the waterfall pair – Pheasant Creek Falls. So, two waterfalls that you can see at the same time.”
The first, Pheasant Creek Falls tops out at 112 feet while Niagara Falls is a close second at 107 feet tall.
Both waterfalls were born in the heart of the Oregon Coast Range Mountains and the water has cut and worn and shaped the 40 million year old basalt into a giant amphitheater.
Don Best was drawn by the power of Niagara Falls – a true plunge pool waterfall that shimmers and whirls as it plows down from a cleft in the ancient basalt.
“I shoot a lot of different kinds of shots,” noted the longtime photographer.
“Because it takes a long while to get in here, I shoot every angle: down by the creek, up high and down low. That way I’ll catch something which will turn out.”
Nearby, at Pheasant Creek Falls, photographers Michael Hordyski and Charlie Lonsford were pulled in by the fall’s closeness - in fact, so close each of us could reach out and touch the water and enjoy a close up view to its rich depth of character as a true cascade type waterfall.
“Today’s light is perfect because it’s overcast,” noted Horodyski. “And this is a great time of year because there’s not a lot of foliage on the trees – so you really center your shots on the waterfalls.”
Pheasant Creek Falls (Courtesy: Michael Hordyski)
Charlie Lonsford added, “There are a lot of falls in Oregon that you can take pictures of but these are the types of falls that I like to shoot.”
If you determine to travel this way, be sure to follow USFS Trail Technician, JW Cleveland, who offered: “Watch your step! It is slick and wet and steep. So, wear proper footwear and rain gear because you never know when something could blow in.”
Niagara Falls (Courtesy: Don Best)
Directions: Drive Hwy 101 south from Tillamook to Beaver, Oregon.Then travel east on Blaine Road for 6 miles. At Blaine Junction travel east on Upper Nestucca River Road for 5.8 miles to Forest Service Road 8533. Go south 4.3 miles to Forest Service Road 8533-131. Turn right at the junction and travel 0.7 miles to trail head parking.