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Trek behind Upper Trestle Creek Falls

by timber press on April 24, 2018

in Natural History

Handcrafted for Northwest parents, educators, and caregivers that want to spark a love of nature, 50 Hikes with Kids highlights the most kid-friendly hikes in Oregon and Washington. Enjoy this trek at Upper Trestle Creek Falls.

Hike Details

Length: 3.7-mile loop
Hike time + explore: 2 hours
Difficulty: Challenging—a steady uphill with exposed sides and an equally steep downhill. All but the youngest little ones should be able to make this.
Season: Year-round; winter and spring have the biggest waterfall flow, but make sure it’s not too rainy when you go because of exposed edges
Get there: At Exit 174 off the I-5 in Cottage Grove, head 27 miles east on Row River Road, which turns into Brice Creek Road. Follow it for 8.3 miles past the other campgrounds until you reach the last trailhead, Champion Creek Trailhead, and park there.
Google Maps: bit.ly/TimberTrestle
Restrooms: At the trailhead
Fee: None
Treat yourself: Grab some scones to go at the Backstage Bakery and Cafe in Cottage Grove.

Umpqua National Forest, Cottage Grove
Ranger District
(541) 767-5000
Twitter @UmpquaNF
Facebook @UmpquaNationalForest

Your Adventure

Get ready to trek behind a waterfall, adventurers. Once you park at the trailhead, cross the bridge where Brice Creek meets with Champion Creek and take the Upper Trestle Creek Falls Trail counterclockwise for a fun loop up, up, up for 1.5 miles. See if you can spot the rock grotto near the skyline on your right-hand side and power up there. You can see Trestle Creek to your left most of the way, and then there it is—the 82-foot tiered falls. Carefully walk behind it and make your way down to where you turn left on the awesome “fern freeway” flat path along Brice Creek and to your car. Need even more? Stay the night at Lund Park Campground.

Upper Trestle Creek Falls Scavenger Hunt

Upper Trestle Creek Falls
Delight in trekking behind this 82-foot two-tiered waterfall. Let the water spray your face and notice the difference between the shape of the first tier, second tier, and the pool below. Sketch in your journal and notice the flow of the water. How does the time of year affect a waterfall’s flow? Sit in the cave just opposite of it, take in the view, and make a wish.

Scarlet sumac
Look for thickets of this evergreen shrub with its fern-like leaves that turn bright red in the winter. In the summer and through winter, you can find panicles (clusters) of its red fruit. Is red your favorite color or do you have a different one?

Cat-tail moss
Draping off of branches, rocks, and logs all around you is the common cat-tail moss. It gets this name because of how it looks like a scared cat with its fur straight up. On dead branches it can look like the tree is wearing a cozy sweater. Put your arms out like a tree and drape a bit of cat-tail moss on your arms to mimic what you see.

Tree moss on the falls
Is the rock crying? Nope, that’s just some of Trestle Creek seeping through the basalt rock, adding to the ever-present erosion. Check out the mini-trees that the moss forms. Moss doesn’t have roots or seeds and instead makes new moss from spores.

Pacific lupine
Beautiful violet flowers draw your attention in the summer. But the pretty sweet firework bursts of green-white hairy leaflets coming from the same stem can be easy to spot any time of the year. Does it remind you of the soft hair on your arm?


Wendy Gorton holds a master’s degree in learning technologies and is a former classroom teacher. She worked as a National Geographic Fellow in Australia researching Tasmanian devils, a PolarTREC teacher researcher in archaeology in Alaska, an Earthwatch teacher fellow in the Bahamas and New Orleans, and a GoNorth! teacher explorer studying climate change via dogsled in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Today, she is a global education consultant who has traveled to more than fifty countries to design programs, build communities, and train other educators to do the same.


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