Photo courtesy of Jessica Beauchemin
Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area lies just 24 miles from Coos Bay. A long drive on windy forest roads leads to the quiet park where two impressive waterfalls stand tall. Two short trails lead to viewpoints at the base of both falls. One longer trail takes you up to the top of Golden Falls. The combined travel time, including the road walk to the park, makes for a pleasant half-day adventure.
First, hike to the base of Silver Falls. Water from Silver Creek plunges more than 100 feet over the top of the falls, crashing onto a jumble of boulders below. This short trail leads through lush coastal forest thick with Douglas fir, sword fern, and sourgrass.
Next, take the longer trail to the top of Golden Falls. This trail follows the other side of Silver Creek, providing another viewpoint of Silver Falls. It then switchbacks up through the forest through an unexpected grassy meadow. The meadow and neighboring cliff face were formed in 1901, when homesteaders blasted a road right next to Golden Falls. The road was used for local residents and lumber companies until the 1950s when the road was decomissioned. Try to imagine driving a logging truck along this narrow, rough track! From the upper viewpoint, it is hard to get a sense of the splendor of Golden Falls.
Lastly, retrace your steps back to the main trailhead and hike along the lower trail. Note the maple, alder, and myrtle trees along the way. The trail ends at the base of 200-foot Golden Falls, where you’ll hear the roar of the waterfall and feel the spray filling the basin at your feet.