Drift Creek Falls is located in the Siuslaw National Forest, ten miles east of Lincoln City. It's easy to moderate a 1.25-mile refreshing hike from the parking area to the waterfall and bridge. The well-graded trail #1378 runs steadily downhill through the second-growth forest with Douglas firs, western hemlock, sword fern, salmonberry, huckleberry, and vine maple. Note, your return trip will be steadily uphill.
The 75-foot horsetail type waterfall pours over a basalt wall into a misty pool. There is a huge basalt fragment that split off and dropped into the pool in 2010, totally changing the waterfall appearance.
You can watch the gorgeous flow from the different points. First of all enjoy a scenic display from the 240-foot suspension bridge that spans the deep canyon 100 feet above the Drift Creek. After crossing the dizzying bridge, you will find another great overlook point in front of the waterfall. There is a picnic table here to enjoy a beautiful view while eating your lunch.
Drift Creek Falls looks impressive from any point of views. Also, you can take great pictures of the waterfall and bridge from the canyon bottom if you go another 0.25 miles by the trail downhill. This steep and sometimes muddy part of the trail can be challenging for unprepared hikers.
Though the trail and area around the waterfall are family friendly, please closely supervise children at all times. The trail is open all year but the best time to see the waterfall - spring, late fall or winter after seasonal rains. Summer is the busiest season. Due to the parking area at Drift Creek Falls Trailhead is limited, plan on arriving early morning or later afternoon to find an available parking space.
On your way to Drift Creek Falls plan a short stop at Drift Creek Covered Bridge - the oldest of the remaining covered bridges in Oregon.
Region: Coast Range, Siuslaw National Forest, Drift Creek Wilderness, Oregon, USA
Access allowed: Year-round, day-use
Service: Vault toilet at the parking area, no drinking water
Walking distance: 1.25-1.5 miles one way
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Northwest Forest Pass - Annual/Day Pass
Golden Age/Access Pass
Interagency Senior/Access/Military Pass
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Elevation (trailhead): 911 ft (278 m)
GPS coordinates (trailhead): 44.9355,-123.8557
GPS coordinates (waterfall): 44.9332, -123.8507
Total height: 75 feet (23 m)
Total width: 8 ft (2 m)
Watercourse: Drift Creek
Elevation: 630 feet (192 m)
Number of drops: One
Average flow rate: 50 cubic feet/s
Primary form: Horsetail
Pitch: 86 degrees
Seasonality: 12 months
The longest in Oregon and Washington pedestrian suspension bridge, the Drift Creek Falls Bridge is able to hold more than 150,000 pounds. It's anchored in the rock by cables and ties on one side of the gorge and cemented on the other side.
The bridge is dedicated to the memory of one of a Forest Service foreman Scott Paul, who in 1993 accidentally lost his life when he became tangled in a rigging line and was pulled into the chasm while trying to move an excavator across the canyon on cables. After the tragedy, the project had stopped for a few years. Paul's friend and Sahale Company's owner, Caroll Vogel took over the project and completed it in 1997.
Driving Directions to Drift Creek Falls
From Portland and Salem
Take Highway 18 toward the Oregon Coast and follow approximately 15 miles to North Bear Creek Road (milepost 5). Turn left onto North Bear Creek Road and continue 9 miles to Drift Creek Falls Trailhead. Later Bear Creek Road becomes Forest Service Road 17. At the junction with Schooner Creek Road, head right.
The paved road becomes gravel and narrow with only room for one car.
From Lincoln City
Turn east onto South Drift Creek Road from Highway 101, milepost 119 (South of Lincoln City). Drive 1.6 miles and then turn right to stay on the Drift Creek Road, continue 0.4 miles and after take a left turn onto South Drift Creek Camp Road. Drive 0.9 miles via South Drift Creek Camp Road to Forest Service Road 17, turn left and continue for 9.4 miles to the Drift Creek Trailhead parking area. At the junction with Forest Service Roads 1929 and 1730 turn left.
Nearby Points of Interest
- The oldest of the remaining covered bridges in Oregon, Drift Creek Covered Bridge is also known as Bear Creek, was constructed south of Lincoln City in 1914...
- A popular destination on the Oregon Coast, Lincoln City is well-known for its broad, flat beach stretching for seven miles along the magnificent Pacific Ocean...