By Eugene Magazine

We’re nearing the end of summer. School starts in a couple weeks, it’s starting to cool down (at least a little), and the amount of daylight is slowly dwindling. Still, there is time yet for some summer adventuring. So, grab your hiking boots, pack a bag, and hit up one or all of these great waterfalls, all within only a couple hours of Eugene off of Highway 126.

With all of these, check the web for any closures before you head out.

Sweet Creek Falls

Located near Mapleton on Highway 126, Sweet Creek Falls is the perfect stop on your way to Florence. Follow the easy 2.2-mile trail—which consists of wooden bridges, dirt trails, shallow pools, and smaller waterfalls—to the four-tiered plunges. The 70 feet of total waterfall at the end of the trail is just the icing on the cake of the way there.

More details:

  • Four trailheads: Homestead Trailhead (full 2.2-mile trail), Sweet Creek Falls Trailhead, Wagon Road Trailhead, Beaver Creek Trailhead
  • Location: 11-mile detour off of Highway 126 at Siuslaw Bridge in Mapleton
  • Time from Eugene: about an hour
  • No fees or permits required

Proxy Falls 

Lose yourself (although stick to the trail) on the way to Proxy Falls. The deep, mountainside forest, with views of lava fields, follows an easy 1.5-mile loop to Proxy Falls. The trail is mostly dirt and bark.

More details:

  • Location: Off Highway 242 from Highway 126, near milepost 64 in McKenzie Bridge
  • Time from Eugene: about an hour and a half
  • Day-use fee and/or recreation pass required

Moon, Pinard, and Spirit Falls

This trio of waterfalls near Cottage Grove is the perfect all-day trip. Each trail is about half a mile in length, with varying levels of difficulty. Start with the half-mile easy hike to 125-foot-tall Moon Falls, followed by the half-mile difficult and steep hike to 105-foot-tall Pinard Falls. End your day with Spirits Falls. This third-of-a-mile hike is rated as difficult, with switchbacks, but well worth it to see the 60-foot falls.

More details:

  • Part of the Layng Creek Watershed, which serves as the municipal water supply for nearby communities—leave no trace (which you should do for all of these)
  • Location: Off of Highway 58, Service Road 5847
  • Time from Eugene: almost an hour and a half
  • No fees or passes required

Blue Pool

While technically not a waterfall (although there is a small, sometimes-flowing waterfall leading into it), we’ll let that fact slide because visiting Tamolitch, “The Blue Pool,” should be on everyone’s list. From the Trail Ridge Reservoir access point (which is recommended), it’s a two-mile, moderate-difficulty hike through lava fields to the pool. Swimming is not recommended as the water is extremely cold.

Other details:

  • Part of the McKenzie River Trail
  • Location: Off of Hwy. 126 in Linn County
  • Time from Eugene: almost an hour and a half
  • No fees or permits required
  • Also open to mountain bikers

Koosah and Sahalie Falls

On your way to the Blue Pool, make a detour to visit Koosah and Sahalie Falls, which are connected by an easy 2.6-mile loop trail along the McKenzie River. While the trail to the 70-foot-tall Koosah Falls is not wheelchair accessible because of some stairs along the way, the 100-foot-tall Sahalie Falls, which was included in the Disney classic Homeward Bound, is less than 100 feet from the parking lot and is wheelchair accessible.

Other details:

  • Part of the Willamette National Forest
  • Location: Off Highway 126 near milepost 5
  • Time from Eugene: almost an hour and a half
  • No fees or permits required