By far, one of our favorite waterfalls is Toketee Falls in Oregon. Water, in shades of green and blue crystal, cascades over a sheer basalt cliff, falling into not just one, but two turbulent turquoise pools. The Toketee Falls trail winds through stone staircases and the most elaborate treetop trail before it finally gives up its views.
- Read about our journey
- Other sights in the Umpqua National Forest
- The trail to Toketee Falls in Oregon
- Finally, a view of Toketee Falls
- What to know before you go: visiting Toketee Falls trail in Oregon
The Opening Day of Our Oregon Waterfall Journey
The journey to Toketee Falls in Oregon started just like any other day trip. We grabbed Kimber the dog, some snacks, and plenty of warm layers and headed out the door. But just like any other journey, we hit some roadblocks on the way. Well really, just one roadblock: Dad.
You see, my dad has developed an obsession for small older Toyota pickups. It may seem random and far from something most avid car collectors look for, but as it was his first car when my parents got married, we’ll call it romantic rather than odd. Anyway, on the particular day in question, Dad insisted on looking at a Toyota pickup on the way to the Toketee Falls trail.
So Mom and I said “go for it,” thinking it would be yet another dissatisfactory vehicle, like all the ones he had seen earlier in the week. Unfortunately for our ambitious waterfall plans, the perfect Toyota sat in the parking lot of the used car dealership that day.
A planned ten-minute stop turned into an hour, then two, then 5 by the time the long searched for 1987 red Toyota truck was registered and title transferred. By this point, Dad was ravenous from all the calorie burning excitement of a new vehicle, so a late lunch was necessary.
Plus, mom and I needed time to regroup and get a new game plan for our Oregon waterfall project. We decided for the sake of time before the sun set, we would cut our journey down to just one of the falls, Toketee Falls.
The Drive to Toketee Falls: It Was Getting Late in the Day
Waving goodbye to the little red pickup, we pulled out of the Sheri’s parking lot and set the GPS to Toketee Falls. (Do not fret fellow Toyota lovers. We came back for him once we had satisfied our Oregon waterfall thirst.)
The road from Roseburg to Toketee Falls seemed to increase in its beauty the further we drove. After leaving Roseburg we found an overlook that Mom said she had read about. My family is not the type to ignore little pull outs with historical information, plus the journey is half the fun, right?
And with Dad also being an avid lover of anything that may contain fish, we had to get out and check it out. The Colliding Rivers stood before us. This time of year, both rivers were racing and the collide was much more exciting than I imagine it is in the drier months.
At this location, both the North Umpqua River and the Little River collide at a nearly head on angle. We all stood in awe for a bit (except the dog, she doesn’t do much idle standing) and watched and listened to the rushing water. Dad hypothesized about the fish species in the river and probed me with questions about salmon that I did not have the knowledge to answer.
Next planned stop: Toketee Falls trail.
Dreaming of Oregon Waterfalls: Still on Our Way to View Toketee Falls
Back in the car, we entered the Umpqua National Forest, and because this is how timing always works while traveling, had to begin looking for a restroom. Instead we found a beautiful suspension type wooden footbridge spanning the North Umpqua River. So, we pulled over to investigate, an impromptu decision that ended up being well worth it.
The dog happily trotted ahead while Mom and I snapped pictures and videos to share. Dad marveled at the bridge and took a closer look to see how it was constructed. The engineer in him was impressed with the older suspension style construction.
He explained many bridges had been made like that in the past, but the design had gone away due to imperfect steel of the earlier era. He then explained many more details about the construction in terms that I did not quite comprehend.
Upon some further research, it turns out this bridge, called the Tioga Bridge has a somewhat unique history. While this bridge was finished in 2013, parts of it are much older than that.
Prior to 1964, the Young’s Bay Bridge stood where the Tioga Bridge now stands. The 1964 Christmas Flood destroyed the Young’s Bay Bridge, but not its supports. The supports stood abandoned until the idea for the Tioga Bridge came to fruition. The new bridge would serve as pedestrian access to help split the 79 mile Umpqua Trail into more manageable day trip portions.
The new bridge was built using the old supports from the Young’s Bay Bridge to help reduce the environmental impact to the river.
Beyond the bridge, we encountered a walking trail beginning with a small waterfall. Our curiosity said to continue, but we held back that urge due to the desire to see Toketee Falls. After all, the rain had picked up, and if you’re going to hike in the rain, Oregon Waterfalls are a more worthy cause.
Finally Arriving at Toketee Falls in Oregon
About an hour and a half before we lost the sunlight for the day, we pulled into the parking lot for Toketee Falls in Oregon. While driving the length of the lot, our car was getting a nice shower of water from the twelve-foot wooden pipeline that edges the lot of the Tokatee Falls Trail parking lot.
Apparently, the wooden pipeline near Toketee Falls Oregon—my dad called it a penstock—is used to divert water from the North Umpqua River to a power station downstream. (I don’t know what the official policy is on penstock design, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t supposed to be spraying water like this one does.)
With not much sunlight left in the February day, we set out to make the best of it. Mom and I were determined to not let the little red pickup defeat our entire trip! We strapped the dog up with her GoPro, grabbed the other cameras, got our boots ready and headed out to enjoy Toketee Falls in winter.
Lucky for us, we had the snowy path to ourselves. The snow and late time of day must have deterred many, but not us true adventurers.
Dad and dog took the lead up the slippery Toketee Falls trail, with Kimber running back and forth between everyone, and incurring twice as many steps as necessary. More than occasionally, Mom and I stopped for a video or photo while Dad kept himself occupied by throwing snowballs at me or trying to get Kimber to chase them.
Up the Stairs of the Toketee Falls Trail
The beginning of the trail is rather flat and features a few stone steps in slight inclines. This gentle beginning was deceiving as we soon found out. The snow and ice was definitely a challenge when we got to the real inclines and the manmade wooden staircases of the Toketee Falls trail. Most people would not say stairs are fun, so they are obviously even less fun when covered in snow and ice, with the temperature dropping fast.
After we mere humans struggled up many flights of slippery stairs that the dog easily traversed, we came to the high point. We were standing basically on top of and slightly to the right of the falls, with a view of the river gorge below us. I am not so enthused by heights, so I was more than pleased to continue our journey.
Viewing of the Famous Oregon Waterfall
Well it turns out going up icy stairs is much easier than going down them. To get to the falls viewpoint we had to navigate our way down many more flights of freezing slush covered stairs. Dad picked his way through first. He and Kimber made it down in record time with no incidents.
Mom and I were not handling it so easily. With both hands on the handrails, and both feet struggling to grip, (especially because I had dumbly worn my riding boots) we navigated our way down, slowly but surely. No quitters here.
Almost to the viewing platform, Kimber ran up to greet me, happily carrying her video device. She led me through the rest of the steps and Tokatee Falls came into view. The suspended platform was up in the tree canopy, and quite literally in a tree.
Dad stood silently enjoying his canopy view of Toketee Falls. Mom and I snapped photos and marveled at the crystal blue water in contrast to the greenery surrounding it. I was enthralled with the clear, inviting pool in the middle of the falls. Water cascaded down one 28-foot drop into a clear blue pool before falling down another 80-foot drop into the river gorge below.
Many people try to quite literally climb down to the bottom, but considering our group does not do well with heights, and dogs do not scale rocks very well, we decided the stairs were safer, ice and all. The climb back up was a little easier so we were able to enjoy the views more than when we made our way down.
Soon we were back at the trail peak, and then the next set of stairs, the rock staircases, and then back to the water pipeline. We packed up our adventuring gear, unstrapped the dog’s go pro, and headed back home, hoping to come back and visit the other Oregon waterfalls along this stretch sometime soon.
What to Know Before You Go: Visiting Toketee Falls in Oregon
Toketee Falls is a two tiered fall, with the top tier being 40 feet, and the bottom cascade reaching 80 feet. The river is slowly but surely carving itself out of volcanic rock, from an ancient lava flow. Due to the controlled water flow, Tokatee Falls sees a fairly even flow year round.
The trail to Toketee Falls in Oregon is 0.4 miles in and 0.4 miles back, meaning it can be a quick hike. When there is no snow or ice present, the trail is easy to navigate and can be managed by anyone who can do stairs.
In the winter months, this area does receive snow often, so be prepared. Trails and stairs are slippery, and since this is a forest hike, remain uncleared of snow and ice.
Some sites online encourage guests to hop fences for the best views. We do not encourage this, as the drops are very high, and the edges are full of loose rock. Many visitors have been injured on the Toketee Falls trail by straying off the beaten path. If you have a big fear of heights, this may not be the best trail for you. There are many high areas and overlooks.
The trailhead has plenty of parking and vault restrooms. There is a picnic area, but no garbage so packing out any waste is necessary.
This trail does receive moderate traffic on weekends and in good weather. The road to access the trail head is paved and can be reached year round. Best of all, Toketee Falls in Oregon is pet-friendly, but please keep your dog under control at all times. In the summer, this hike can experience a fair volume of traffic during the day.
Umpqua National Forest
THINGS TO DO NEARBY
Umpqua National Forest- 5 minutes away
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