Waterfalls: Beauty almost beyond belief

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Western Oregon – and the Willamette Valley in particular – is rich in running water and Linn County has some terrific waterfalls, as a result. The county actually has more than 100 recognized falls, though during the rainy season you can see water cascading down cliffs nearly everywhere in the mountains east of Detroit and Sweet Home. Some particularly spectacular falls, all of which can be seen during the dry season, are:

McDowell Creek Falls – Located on McDowell Creek Road, northeast of Lebanon and north of Sweet Home, McDowell Creek Falls is actually a series of several waterfalls located within McDowell Creek County Park. A trail a little over a mile in length links Lower McDowell Creek Falls, Royal Terrace Falls, Crystal Pool Falls and Majestic Falls. To reach the park, travel east from I-5 and Albany through Lebanon and turn left on Fairview Road, four miles east of Lebanon. Follow Fairview until you reach a T-junction and bear right, continuing for another mile until you reach McDowell Creek Road. Bear left and follow the road for just over seven miles until you reach the lower parking area for McDowell Creek Park. The path starts at the end of the parking area.

Sahalie and Koosah Falls – The McKenzie River flows over these two waterfalls, located five miles south of the intersection of Highways 20 and 126. Access from Highway 126 is easy, with a parking lot and visitors kiosk. Sahalie Falls is the tallest of the three, at about 100 feet (depending on the volume of water). Sahalie is a Chinook jargon word meaning “high,” and although the falls isn’t the highest on the McKenzie, it’s certainly one of the most spectacular in the state. Koosah, which is about 70 feet in height, is a few hundred yards down the McKenzie River Trail. Its name means “shining” in Chinook – a tribute to its spectacular appearance.

Soda Creek Falls – This beautiful falls, shooting 150 feet down a narrow groove between two moss-covered rock cliffs, can be accessed by hiking three-quarters of a mile up a trail that starts at the parking lot of Cascadia State Park, 14 miles east of Sweet Home. The hike is relatively easy and is worth the effort.

House Rock Falls – The South Santiam River plunges down a jumbled series of boulders and rock walls in this beautiful waterfall, located a short hike above House Rock Campground, 26 miles east of Sweet Home on Latiwi Creek Road, just off Highway 20.