Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area nestles in lush forests about 24 miles northeast of Coos Bay, Oregon. This secluded state park has three trail systems that provide scenic views of Golden Falls and Silver Falls. (Not to be confused with Silver Falls State Park.) One trail leads to Silver Falls, another leads to Golden Falls, and the third winds to the top of Golden Falls. The trails weave through dense forests and beautiful canyons.
The roads leading up to this state park are windy and can get a bit confusing in certain areas. Just be sure to study a map beforehand or bring one with you. Note: Glenn Creek Road narrows and turns into gravel for the last 3 miles. The parking area offers plenty of space for parking as well as vault toilets and several picnic tables. All of the trails are one way and easily accessible right from the parking lot. Also, there is no day-use fee to park and explore the waterfalls. You can read more about Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area here.
Nat and I visited Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area on December 10, 2017. We arrived at the parking lot at about 11 am. It was a crisp fall day with gorgeous blue skies – not a cloud in sight!
Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area
Silver Falls – Trail to Viewpoint
We decided to start on the Silver Falls viewpoint trail. It’s a quick, easy hike that takes you to a distant yet scenic view of the waterfall. The undergrowth was lush and green – it smelled so refreshing! The sun broke through the tree canopy and created beautiful lighting.
Just the trail itself was stunning. I couldn’t stop admiring the moss-covered rocks and trees, steep canyon sides, and thick foliage. Mind you this was in the middle of December. I can only imagine what it looks like during the spring and summer!
It didn’t take us long to reach the end. The distant view of Silver Falls was perfect – it allowed me to capture the entire waterfall. Also, look at that blue sky!
At this point we turned around and headed back to the parking lot to meet up with the next trail.
Golden Falls – Lower Trail
Next we wanted to venture to the base of Golden Falls. This hike is also easy but a little longer than the Silver Falls viewpoint trail. Large moss-covered old-growth trees hung over the path.
As we approached the base of Golden Falls, the trail transitioned into wet, rocky terrain. Careful of slippery rocks!
The view of Golden Falls is more of an upward look, but magnificent nonetheless.
After soaking in the grandeur of Golden Falls, we turned around and made our way back to the parking lot. Nat stopped to check out Glenn Creek, which runs parallel to the Golden Falls lower trail.
Golden Falls – Upper Trail
We saved the longest and most difficult trail for last. The upper trail, as you may have guessed, takes you all the way to the top of Golden Falls. Comparatively it’s the most difficult due to the fact that it gains the most elevation. In general, though, I would consider this trail a moderate hike with the gradual incline.
The Golden Falls upper trail is just as lush and beautiful as the other two. Once you reach the first switchback, you’ll get a close-up view of Silver Falls at its midway point. You can even feel the mist!
Farther along the trail we hiked under a large fallen tree – it didn’t look like it was moving anytime soon. I love all the small plants and bushes growing out of it!
The trail continues to meander through the dense forest as it climbs out of the canyon. Small patches of sun scattered the trail and highlighted the green foliage.
Eventually we reached the top of the canyon – the tree canopy opens up and the trail narrows. The sun felt so nice! I actually had to peel a layer.
The trail here is flanked by a large rock cliff on the left and deep canyon on the right. (The photo below is looking back down the trail.) We continued to follow the trail up toward the top of the waterfall.
The view at the top is breathtaking – it overlooks the canyon, rushing water, and forested hills in the distance.
We ate our lunch and enjoyed the scenic view before making our way back down to the parking lot.
Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area offers scenic views of large waterfalls, deep canyons, and lush forests. It’s a wonderful place to hike with family and friends. The plentiful parking, vault toilets, and picnic tables create a family-friendly environment. Plus, the three trails provide options for both beginner and experienced hikers. Just the green, dense forest is worth viewing if nothing else!