Photo courtesy of Jackie Arnal

Sweet Creek is a great adventure packed with waterfalls, wildflowers, and old-growth forest. This short hike makes for a delightful side-trip if you’re heading to the coast, and it’s located just 24 miles inland from Florence in the Siuslaw National Forest.

There are several trailheads along Sweet Creek, making this trail easy to hike in segments. To hike the entire trail, start at the Homestead Sweet Creek Trailhead and hike the 2.2 miles to Sweet Creek Falls and back. You will find a variety of wildflowers in spring ranging from trillium, fairly bells, bleeding hearts, skunk cabbage, and sour grass. During the summer you can snack on salmonberries as you trek alongside Sweet Creek, and as you proceed to Punchbowl Falls Canyon through towering stands of Douglas fir, big-leaf maple, and alder, various birds and butterflies can be found near the creek. In 1879, this cascading creek was settled by Zarah Sweet, and portions of an early wagon road have been incorporated on trails near the creek.

For a quick trip nearby, head south on Sweet Creek Road for 1.3 miles, take a left on gravel road 939, and continue for 0.7 miles to the road’s end. There is a short trail that leads to Beaver Creek Falls. Sweet Creek and Beaver Creek meet here to make a beautiful double waterfall. There is another option to hike the 0.6 miles to the bottom of this waterfall from the Wagon Road Trailhead.