I keep a mental list of hikes I’d like to do and places I’d like to see, some day. Over the years, I am slowly making my way through the list (though I am also adding to the list so I’ll never see or do them all!). The trail to Diamond Creek Falls was on that list for a long time. Finally, in August of this year, I made it out there with a friend.
Diamond Creek Falls Trail is a 2.5 mile loop trail, located in the Cascades, west of Willamette Pass. The trail head is actually in the parking lot for Salt Creek Falls. I had imagined hiking there in early summer, when the creeks and rivers are still flowing strong. In real life, though, the opportunity came about in mid-August, after several extremely dry months.
Starting from the trail head, cross over Salt Creek on a wooden bridge, then choose to go left or right on the loop trail. We went right, and I’m glad we did. After visiting a small lake, the trail opens up on a bluff along Salt Creek Canyon with views out over the mountains and valleys. There were also views of both lower and upper Diamond Creek falls.
The loop trail itself is well maintained and fairly wide, perfect for walking and talking with a friend. However, the spur trail which goes to the base of the upper falls, about 1.5 miles from the trail head, is a different story. This trail is narrow, steep, and at times, sliding away. We went down steep stairs cut into a log, and across a wooden bridge that had been damaged in a storm and not yet fixed.
When my friend and I set out on the trail I wasn’t sure how much water would actually be flowing over the falls. I was ready for disappointment, as many waterfalls are down to a trickle by late summer. As you can tell from this video, though, Diamond Creek was still flowing well.
The Diamond Creek Falls trail has now made its way onto another mental list that I keep—my list of places to take out-of-town friends. Salt Creek Falls themselves are amazing to see, and a destination themselves. Then there’s this awesome trail accessible from the same location, along with a nice picnic area at the trail head. And, it is less than a 90-minute scenic drive from Cottage Grove. All-in-all, a perfect day trip.
To reach this trail, head east on Highway 58. You’ll park at Salt Creek Falls, which is about 23 miles from Oakridge and well marked. There is a day-use fee if you don’t have a recreation pass.
If you go, here are two things to note, especially if you are hiking with children or dogs: The main loop trail follows along a bluff overlooking the Salt Creek Canyon with no protective railing, and the spur trail to upper Diamond Creek Falls is narrow and steep.