Sweet Creek Falls, Oregon
Sweet Creek Falls near Mapleton, Oregon in the Siuslaw National Forest is a beautiful and easy day hike. Located about an hour west of Eugene, Sweet Creek Falls is a quick getaway. It’s also a great stop if you’re heading towards the coast.
Hike Sweet Creek Falls
As soon as you open your car door at the trailhead you are greeted by the sound of rushing, cascading water. Like most places in Western Oregon, you are surrounded by trees. Huge trees. And the trees are covered in moss. The ground and the walls of the gorge play host to a myriad of ferns and vines. Being in an Oregon forest is truly like being in a fairytale. Everything is green. Green and vibrant and alive. The water here is clear as it rushes over rocks and down drop-offs and spills from the rocks. Where pools of it collect, it is a blue, opaque painting, reflecting the surrounding forest.
We arrived around noon on Sunday and there were people already there. We began at the Homestead Trailhead and hiked only to Sweet Creek Falls, about 1.1 miles to the falls and the same back. The hike is easy, fairly flat and well-maintained. There are a multitude of places to stop and relax or take photos. You will see eleven waterfalls, according to the Forest Service Website. I didn’t count but I believe it. The hike follows one giant, lazy cascade with several larger falls. Parts of the trail were frosty and slick into the afternoon but that just comes with winter.
History of Sweet Creek Falls
The particular valley that Sweet Creek Falls is located in was settled in 1879 by Zarah T. Sweets, an Oregon Trail Pioneer. The area is within the boundaries of Siuslaw National Forest and is considered part of Oregon’s Coastal Range. The Sweet Creek Falls Trail follows part of an old wagon road that was used to settle the area.
The geological history of the area is interesting: the North American Continental Plate has been shifting west for a long time, pushing against the Pacific seafloor. About 30 million years ago, the Pacific seafloor buckled upwards and created what is now the Coastal Range, including Sweet Creek Falls.
This area of Oregon was occupied long before the pioneers arrived. People were thriving in this area as far back as 9,000 years ago. The Siuslaw Tribe occupied the area surrounding Sweet Creek Falls . They established villages, a class system and lived well off the abundant resources available to them. The Siuslaw were devastated several times by diseases from foreign visitors throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Their language was extinct by 1950.
Visit Sweet Creek Falls
To get to Sweet Creek Falls from Eugene, take 126 W towards Florence. In the town of Mapleton, just before you cross over the bridge, you will turn LEFT onto Sweet Creek Road. The Homestead Trailhead is about 10 miles down Sweet Creek Road and will be on your RIGHT.
This is definitely a great day hike. Next time I’d like to complete the whole trail and go to Beaver Creek Falls. Has anyone else visited this beautiful place?