Monday, September 25, 2017

More of Oregon's Stunning Natural Beauty

We had a wonderful time in Portland but it was still a pleasure to leave the hustle and bustle of the big, noisy city and head south on I-5 and back into a natural setting at Champoeg State Park. Even the weather transitioned along with us, from hot and smokey to cool and rainy...fall is in the air!

We stayed at Champoeg last August and loved it so much we vowed to return. Many of the sites in the B-loop are large with excellent separation. Our site, B5, had privacy shrubs and backed up to a big grassy field, a little slice of heaven after the close quarters and nearly constant noise at Columbia River RV Park in Portland.

Site B5

Check out that site separation!

Champoeg State Park was the site of Oregon's first provincial government, formed by an historical vote in 1843. The park is situated on the banks of the Willamette River and has several miles of paved and natural trails plus a fun disc golf course.

Lovely walking at Champoeg State Park.

Vineyard mansion on the hill overlooking the Willamette River.

Paved trail at Champoeg State Park.

From Champoeg we moved south and east about 25 miles to Silverton, OR. Set among rolling hills lush with filbert orchards, christmas tree farms, fields of blueberries and a variety of other crops, Silverton calls itself both Garden City and City of the Falls, thanks to the lovely Oregon Garden and nearby Silver Falls State Park.

After a couple of days of rain our first outing was a walk in Willamette Mission State Park. Site of the first Methodist mission for Native Americans in the west (in 1834), the park has several miles of paved and natural trails, a disc golf course, historical sites and extensive picnic areas.

We were grateful for a paved trail after days of showers.

The picnic area (above) is set in a grove of old walnut trees, the disc golf course plays among an old filbert grove.

The original mission site is represented by these ghost structures.
The mission did not last long due to poor was plagued by floods and mosquito's.

The paved trail led us to a view of the Wheatland Ferry. A ferry has operated at this location since 1844. Today's version can hold up to six cars and is tethered to keep it from floating down stream.

Wheatland ferry crossing the Willamette River.

Gardens of all kinds make me enormously happy so high on my list during our stay in Silverton was a visit to The Oregon Garden. Originally conceived in the 1940's, the garden was finally realized in the late 1990's. This 80 acre property has over 20 specialty gardens depicting every type of habitat found in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed some alone time in this paradise and recommend it to anyone who gets excited about plants.

Oyster shell sculpture in the water garden.

Hobbit house in the children's garden.

Exquisite creek garden.

I had this secret, hidden-behind-the-blue-door garden all to myself...heavenly!

I did not realize there were two snakes in this photo until I saw it later on my laptop!

The extensive forest display included managed and unmanaged forests, hardwood and softwood,
central OR ponderosa and oak forests...and this funky structure!

The conifer display was incredible! So many varieties of conifers that I never knew existed...
this photo is just a slice of a truly unique specialty garden.

Silver Falls State Park is one of the crown jewels of the Oregon State Park System. It's so popular we weren't able to get a site at the campground which is why we ended up staying in Silverton, which is only about 15 miles away. We did drive through the campground though and thought it looked like a nice place to stay, there were several very long and private sites that we would enjoy.

The most popular hike is the Trail of Ten Falls. It's a loop, about eight miles long, and dogs are not allowed on this trail, though they are allowed on other trails in the park. We chose to hike the falls trail early on a week day hoping to miss the bulk of the crowds. We parked near the Silver Falls Lodge and hiked the loop counter clockwise, getting the two mile section next to the road over with first.

It was a brisk 42 degrees when we started the hike and the forest was foggy and drippy from the recent rains.

The sun rises over North Falls.

Lush sun dappled forest along North Fork Silver Creek.

You can walk behind several of the falls. Here you can see a couple of people behind Middle North Falls.

Behind the falls.

Drake Falls.

Lower South Falls.

Behind the veil of Lower South Falls.

South Falls.

For our last hike in the area we returned to Silver Falls State Park and hiked the eight mile Buck Mountain Loop. The entire loop traverses dense forest, but as the trail gently climbs the forest opens up, and the peaceful green solitude was refreshing after the thick crowds on portions of the falls trail.

The trail was a little muddy from recent rains but the lack of crowds was refreshing.

Bright orange fungus really stands out among all the green!

That wraps up the last week and a half...onward to Eugene for a few days!


  1. Nice orange fungi! I've hiked that Silver Falls "trail of ten falls" many, many times. It's best in mid-October when the leaves change color. Great meeting up with you guys again last night! Enjoy the rest of your travels in Oregon.

    1. I bet it is absolutely beautiful during the color change! It was great seeing you one last time and getting to meet Roger! Till next time...

  2. We lucked out and got a two night cancellation at Silver Falls SP back in July 2014. It was one of the best sites in the campground, backed up to the creek. A very pleasant stay but no phone or internet.
    The Oregon Garden looks like a peaceful place to spend some time, except for the snakes!

    1. Yeah, It seemed like cell service would be poor at Silver Falls SP.

      Those were friendly snakes!

  3. Wow...we covered a LOT of Oregon this summer, but we didn't get to a single one of these places! Guess we need to go back!

  4. I love waterfall and lake hikes. This trail is amazing with so many cool waterfalls. Love the photo from behind the falls. Very cool fungi!! Your time in the Oregon Garden looks so peaceful and perfect. Lovely features.

    1. Waterfalls are awesome! And a hike with lots of them is magical!

  5. We really have got to get back to Oregon. Thanks so much for sharing this post. I would love to visit The Oregon Garden. It looks so peaceful.

    1. The nice thing is, Oregon is such an easy drive from your home base at Jojoba...I'm sure you guys will make it there some year!

  6. Thank you for sharing your solitude time in the garden. All of your photos draw me in - definitely on the list! Love seeing all those robust falls and deep green forests. We were just talking about how much we love the red dirt desert where we are - and that we love the green and wet of Oregon just as much! Such a gift to enjoy it all.

    1. I've been talking about how much I enjoy the extreme green of Oregon but that I will also be very happy to get to some wide open vistas in the next few weeks! I love being able to see so many different landscapes when we travel!

  7. The Oregon Garden has been on my list for years -- I was kind of waiting for it to be fully established before visiting, but it sure looks lush and gorgeous and worth visiting now! Thanks for the great photos. Silver Falls is on our list, too. What a beautiful hike!

    1. I really enjoyed my time at the Garden, most everything seems well established.

  8. OMG...I have so got to get to Oregon! Absolutely amazing...the gardens are spectacular, the trails so green, and the falls are magnificent. Love the photos of behind the falls!