Tucked away in the Three Sisters Wilderness of the Willamette National Forest, Proxy Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon. The sheer beauty of the falls entices large swaths of visitors, and the short hike on the way to the falls is also laden with scenic views.
However, Proxy Falls isn’t just any ordinary waterfall. It is unique because there is no pool of water at the bottom. Instead, the falls sink through the porous lava rocks below and into the ground. Keep reading to discover everything you’ll need to know about hiking Proxy Falls Trail.
Exploring Proxy Falls
Proxy Falls Loop Trail is the perfect hike for getting incredible scenery without tons of effort or mileage. This short hike usually takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete, and hikers of all skill levels will find the route manageable.
The trailhead is located off of Mackenzie Highway (OR 242). While this trail is technically available year-round, the road to the trailhead is often closed in the winter, depending on snowfall. Of course, you could always hike in from the highway if you don’t mind adding about 5 miles to your trip.
There are restrooms located across the street from the trailhead. The parking lot is very big, and it fills up quickly—so plan to arrive early in the morning to secure your spot.
Hiking Proxy Falls Trail
Distance: 1.6 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 147 ft
Pass: $5.00 day-use fee or annual Northwest Forest Pass
The trail begins at the southwest corner of the parking lot. The first section of the trail runs through an ancient lava field, so you’ll be trekking with hardened lava flow. After a while, the rocky terrain gives way to a lush, moss-covered forest.
Eventually, the trail splits. The fork in the road will lead you to Lower Proxy Falls or along the main trail towards Upper Proxy Falls. Both vantage points are worth checking out, so don’t hesitate to take these short detours.
The path to Lower Proxy Falls is quite steep, so take your time as you meander down the eroded slope. Due to the proximity of the falls, it’s also usually slippery, so waterproof shoes and rain jackets are highly recommended.
Back at Upper Proxy Falls, the views of this massive waterfall cascading down the mossy basalt rock slab are impressive, so take your time at the bottom, soaking it all in.
It is a bit of a sketchy climb the closer you get to the falls. There’s no true trail and you’ll need to scramble over some slippery logs to get really close! If you don’t want to get too close, there are still nice views from the main trail.
RELATED: 29 Stunning Oregon Waterfall Hikes
Tips for Hiking Proxy Falls
- Waterproof shoes are a good idea! At least wear something with traction and shoes you don’t mind getting wet if you want to get up close.
- If you want to get close to the falls, a rain jacket is also recommended.
- The falls are at their fullest in late spring and early summer, so plan a visit during these months if possible. They are also incredibly scenic in the autumn when the fall foliage is at its finest.
- Plan to hike mid-week in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- It doesn’t matter which direction you hike this loop. Try both ways and see which one you prefer!
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