Oregon is home to some of the wildest and best adventures in the Pacific Northwest. After spending ample time in the area, we’ve constructed a list of the seven most amazing Central Oregon waterfalls to explore.
The 7 Best Central Oregon Waterfalls
Grab your hiking shoes, bring the hammock, and find these hidden gems all within reach of Bend, Oregon.
1. Watson Falls
At almost 300 feet tall, Watson Falls is one of the most beautiful Central Oregon waterfalls we have visited. It is pretty well hidden and sees very few tourists compared to other waterfalls in the area.
The small looped trail to get to the base of the waterfall can be completed by the entire family. At just under a mile, the trail is easy enough for people of all fitness levels.
Watson Falls is located in Umpqua National Forest, approximately two hours from Bend. Since Watson Falls is just a mile or two down the road from Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs, the best day trip would be to visit all three at once.
Note: Due to the popularity of the hot springs, I suggest starting your trip early to beat the crowds and if it’s possible, plan your trip on a weekday.
Pro-tip: If you choose to get close to the waterfall, bring a raincoat. Watson Falls is a powerful waterfall and the breeze means you’re bound to get wet.
You’ll want to bring the bug spray on this adventure. The bugs in Central Oregon become fierce, especially in the dense woods of Umpqua National Forest.
Another item to pack is your hammock. This waterfall is surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pines that are ready for you to set up shop.
Although camping is restricted to designated campgrounds, I highly recommend hanging out by one of the best Central Oregon waterfalls for the afternoon.
2. Tumalo Falls
Tumalo Falls is a popular waterfall just outside of Bend. This is the perfect day trip and out-and-back hike for people of all fitness levels.
The best part about the trails at Tumalo Falls is that you can choose how far you want to hike. If the weather turns sour or you aren’t feeling up for a long hike, you’re able to turn back at any time.
Be sure to find the additional hiking trail that leads you down behind the falls; it is a can’t-miss view!
There are waterfalls dotted along the entire trail. Tumalo can also be accessed in winter too, which is extremely accommodating to winter adventure seekers.
Pro-tip: Getting to Tumalo Falls is very straightforward. From Bend, take Skyliners Road approximately 10 miles, which will lead you directly to the falls.
Unfortunately, for a large portion of the year, this road is unmaintained. I recommend driving a 4WD vehicle on these roads due to aggressive potholes.
Parking will cost you $5, so be sure to bring cash.
3. Benham Falls
We didn’t expect much from Benham Falls when we went out in search of a hike. AllTrails describes it as a 1.5 mile out and back trail.. a bit easy for avid hikers. Luckily, we were pleasantly surprised by the beauty along this route.
Benham Falls is a popular location for families. It is located just south of Bend, in a town called Sunriver. Snaking along the Deschutes River, this hike is very easy and there are plenty of places to stop for a lunch break.
Bring the entire family and enjoy the waterfalls (yes, plural) along this trail.
Pro-tip: If you’re looking for a longer hike, there is a 6.4 mile out and back trail leading from Sunriver to Benham Falls. This hike is relatively flat too, so don’t expect an arduous trek. Keep an eye out for bikers on your journey as this is a great trail for mountain biking as well.
4 & 5. Koosah & Sahalie Falls
If you’re looking for the epitome of Central Oregon, look no further. Koosah and Sahalie Falls are two of the most gorgeous waterfalls, just a few hundred meters apart.
The lush moss and dense forest surrounding these waterfalls are exactly what I picture when I think of Central Oregon.
These waterfalls are quite popular, especially during the summer months.
We visited in late November and we were the only ones there. I highly recommend going in the winter months to avoid crowds and to see the dusting of snow on the waterfalls’ edge.
Pro-tip: If you decide to hike down by Sahalie Falls, be sure to bring a change of clothes. We were soaking wet in freezing temperatures. Not smart.
Camping is very popular in Willamette National Forest. There are so many activities in the McKenzie River area that this is a perfect destination for a weekend trip with friends or family.
We recommend reserving a spot at the Ice Cap Campground, located directly next to Koosah Falls.
If you decide to make this a day trip, park in the Koosah Falls parking lot. This lot tends to be a lot less crowded than the Sahalie lot.
5. Toketee Falls
I’m sure you’ve heard of the ever-popular “Umpqua Hot Springs”, but have you heard about the epic waterfall just down the road?
Toketee Falls (still not sure how to pronounce this) is an incredible sight to see. And if you’re already in the neighborhood, you might as well stop for a peek.
The trail leading up to Toketee Falls is very short and accessible for people of all fitness levels, although there are quite a few stairs.
There is also the option to go down closer to the falls, which many tourists choose to do. However, there are barricades up to stop people from doing this so please use common sense when exploring this area.
It’s our job as travelers to leave no trace. Be mindful when exploring these Central Oregon waterfalls.
Read next: The Top 5 Caves to Explore in Central Oregon
7. Proxy Falls
Another Willamette National Forest gem to add to your list, Proxy Falls is one of Oregon’s most enchanting waterfalls.
These falls are one of the most photographed Central Oregon waterfalls due to its cascading water from 200 feet above and moss-covered scenery.
Bring your hiking shoes for a steep hike down, but the views are worth every step. You’ll be hiking on loose lava rock through the forest to get to the viewpoint. Trek down an additional trail over fallen trees to reach the bottom of the falls.
Pro-tip: Plan your trip to Proxy Falls during late September or October. The falls colors are brilliant along the trail.
The Wrap-Up: Central Oregon Waterfalls
Central Oregon is crawling with adventures from mountains to caves to hot springs and everything in between. One of the best ways to see the Pacific Northwest is by visiting the most beautiful Central Oregon waterfalls.
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