Explore your favorite waterfalls in the fall! Absent summer hikers and summer heat, hike untrodden paths through brilliantly colored leafy glens, old-growth evergreens and along mossy creek banks. Bring extra layers, and a warm hat and plan for a hot springs soak or a hot autumn drink at the conclusion of your adventure.

Proxy Falls in McKenzie River Region by Greg Lief

Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls

McKenzie River

Before the winter snows overtake the lava fields, hike here with the bright hues of fall popping up against the dark obsidian backdrop. Proxy Falls has lower and upper falls tucked in pockets of lush forest. After exploring this fantastic hike, head to Belknap Hot Springs Resort to walk in their "secret garden" and soak in the hot springs-fed swimming pool.

Sweet Creek Falls in Autumn by Adam Sawyer
: Adam Sawyer

Many leaf-strewn pools edge the Sweet Creek hiking trail.

Sweet Creek Falls


Halfway between Eugene and the Oregon Coast, this creekside hike is abundant with small waterfalls and colorful leaves drifting down to float in the shallow pools. Multiple trailheads make Sweet Creek Falls an easily adaptable hike for families, but grated walkways may be challenging for some dogs. Dress warm as the hike is shady. Stop in nearby Mapleton for a quick snack or visit Historic Old Town Florence for lunch. The Wildcat Creek Covered Bridge is nearby for another scenic stop.

A waterfall in a misty evergreen forest.

Brice Creek Falls

Brice Creek Falls

Cottage Grove

Beyond Cottage Grove, Brice Creek Falls is a popular summertime destination for local families but in the autumn, back-to-school means an uncrowded meander through the forest along the creek to a swimming hole. Locals like to jump into the water, but be aware that rocks, logs or other hidden debris could pose a threat. Never jump without knowledge of the underwater terrain. Best to find a seat on the rocks for quiet reflection and soak in the tranquility of the waterfall splashing into the pool below.

A couple takes a selfie in front of a waterfall

Spirit Falls in the Umpqua National Forest

Spirit Falls

Cottage Grove

Spirit Falls is just one waterfall in a nearby trio, yet this veil of water is the most likely to still impart its magic even in the earlier, drier part of fall. The water fans out over the rocks in a shimmering curtain rather than a single powerful plunge. Ferns and moss grow out of crevices in the rock wall invoking a shrine-like atmosphere. A short walk brings you immediately to the best vantage point.