Just east of Coos Bay hides a beautiful pair of waterfalls, sheltered by giant old-growth firs and cedars. It’s easy to overlook this spot – the Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area – as its remote location keeps it safe from sightseeing crowds.
Yet those who visit it agree: the 200-foot Golden Falls and 130-foot Silver Falls are dubbed the most impressive waterfalls in Oregon's Coast Range for good reason. The sights are worth the hour-long trip from Coos Bay or even the nearly 3- or 4-hour drives from Eugene and Salem, respectively. Two short trails lead to viewpoints at the base of both falls, and one longer trail takes travelers to a birds-eye view above the falls.
Start your trek by heading along the marked trail that leads to Silver Falls. You’ll pass through a forest of alder, maple, fir, and Oregon myrtle trees. At the base of Silver Falls take in the sight of that thunderous column of water cascading over a sheer rock cliff to moss-covered boulders over 100 feet below. In the wintertime, expect a truly dramatic display.
From here take the trail leading upward to the top of Golden Falls. The trail has gentle switchbacks, cutting through lush coastal woodlands dense with Douglas fir, sword fern, and sourgrass. You’ll pass through a human-made meadow, created in 1901 when homesteaders blasted a road right next to the falls. This trail was used by lumber companies and locals until the 1950s.
Continue to the summit, where you’ll get a stunning perspective from the top of Golden Falls to the dizzying drop. From here hike back down to the main trailhead and follow the lower trail to the base of Golden Falls. Take in the reverse perspective, and enjoy the rumble of cascading water into the deep basin below. Watch out for slippery, moss-cover boulders at the base, as the spray is far-reaching.
The hike is free, and parking is available at the trailhead. Allot about two hours to hike the entire trail length. Note that the road in to the Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area was closed due to a landslide until late this year, but has been reopened.