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Guide to Umpqua National Forest: Waterfall Hikes & Hot Springs

Thousands of years ago, powerful geologic activity created the diverse landscapes of this southern Oregon gem. Alpine lakes, rushing rapids, lush vegetation and tumbling waterfalls await visitors exploring the Cascade Mountain Range.

You will even find some of the tallest and most visually stunning waterfalls anywhere in the state, some of those located in the Umpqua National Forest.

The distinct natural habitats dispersed throughout the forest are home to hundreds of plant and wildlife species. You can explore every stretch of terrain on roughly 350 miles of scenic hiking trails.

Fishing, kayaking, camping, biking, and skiing are just a handful of other ways to explore the diverse wilderness.


Get our curated list of the best adventures, things to do, and places to grab a brew loaded onto your maps with just two clicks!

Guide to Umpqua National Forest

Pretty much everything you can do in Umpqua National Forest is right off of Route 138. We made a handy map for you to use on your trip. You’d need a few days to fully enjoy everything on this list. There are numerous campsites on this route and we mentioned a few below as well.

If camping isn’t your thing, the charming Maple Home is conveniently located near many of the attractions as well and is a comfortable option with views of the river.

Click the image to view the clickable map for Umpqua National Forest.

Best Waterfall Hikes in Umpqua National Forest

If you love hearing the peaceful flow of the river, hiking in Umpqua National Forest will be a surreal experience for you.

Gorgeous spruce and pine trees, wildflowers and enchanting pools highlight the well-maintained paths. Normally, the grand prize for many hikes is a stunning panorama of an Umpqua waterfall.

Susan Creek Falls Trail

Distance: 1.9 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

Hikers of all skill levels can enjoy this relaxing trek through Umpqua National Forest. The path is easy to navigate, and signs point the way to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Umpqua.

Majestic view of Susan Creek Falls in Umpqua National Forest.
Susan Creek Falls

Climb to the top of the falls for a striking view but make sure to wear proper trekking shoes in case of slippery terrain. Watch out for downed trees when walking along the well-maintained path.

NOTE: Google maps, for some reason, wanted to take us a crazy way—we got lost for nearly an hour because of this! The trailhead couldn’t be any easier and yes, we cursed Siri for her mistakes once we realized where the true trailhead was. Just click here for the parking area so you’re headed to the correct spot the first time.

Fall Creek Falls Trail

Distance: 1.1 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

The perfect hike in Umpqua National Forest to cool off! Walk right up to the beautiful falls and feel the rush of the water flowing off the rocky wall.

Admire the forested valleys decorated with fir, red pines and clovers. Remain on the trail while observing the greenery to avoid contacting poison oak.

Watson Falls Trail

Distance: 0.6 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

Head to the mesmerizing Umpqua River Valley to witness the crown jewel of Umpqua waterfalls. The short path has a steep incline, but the views of Watson Falls are among the most beautiful in Umpqua National Forest.

Tumbling nearly 300-feet along the craggy cliffside, the waterfall is the third highest in Oregon. Encircled by majestic Douglas-firs, Watson Falls may just be the most picturesque panorama in the forest.

NOTE: Watson Fall may be slightly disappointing in dry season! Try to come when it’s gushing, in the rainy season. That said, the trail is easy enough to do anyway to see if it’s roaring or not. The pictures above show you both a dry and wet Watson Falls.

Lemolo Falls Trail

Distance: 3.2 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

Surrounded by lush greenery, Lemolo Falls plunges over 100-feet to the bottom of a canyon. The sounds of the Umpqua River echo along the steadily declining path until you reach the falls.

NOTE: You have multiple options meandering off the trail to reach a better view of the falls or catch a view from above. Unfortunately, just viewing it from the trail is slightly obstructed with trees.

The paths to get closer are mostly sketchy and would result in injury. Take care when maneuvering around to get a closer look. We found a small outcrop to get a closer look just to the left when the fall comes into view. This was the safest viewing area.

Toketee Falls Trail

Distance: 0.8 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

The basalt-columned gorge surrounding this two-tiered waterfall is one of the most breathtaking sights in Umpqua National Forest. Enjoy an easy trek to the lookout point and watch the falls gushing into the pools below.

Toketee Falls near Umpqua Hot Springs
Toketee Falls

Have your camera ready on the viewing platform as the falls cascading along the volcanic rock and into the pools are a popular snapshot.

NOTE: You may have seen a popular photo of this waterfall that’s really straight on and perfectly framed. These photos were obtained by hopping a fence that clearly says to STAY ON THE PATH. Please respect the signage, we love a great photo too but not that the expense of hiking a sketchy trail where you can get hurt and ignoring the forest’s rules.

Our photo here was taken at the proper viewpoint area.

Further Waterfall Hikes in Umpqua National Forest

Here are a few more hikes in Umpqua National Forest that are easy and rewarding, with short distances and gorgeous waterfall to explore. There’s only one problem—They are a bit difficult to drive to. There’s a decent paved road about halfway and then it becomes a dirt and rock road the rest of the way.

It takes a little while to drive out to these three as well, luckily they are relatively close to one another once you do make it out there, so make a day of it and be sure to drive back before dark just to be safe.

Unfortunately, when we tried to make it out here we didn’t know about the road situation and had to turn back since it was getting a bit late already (not to mention we had just got a flat tire the previous day while exploring Umpqua Hot Springs and didn’t want a repeat!)

Yakso Falls Trail

Distance: 1.4 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

Park your car at the Lake in the Woods Campground and head to Little River for a glimpse of a spectacular Umpqua waterfall.

The river suddenly drops over 60-feet over a cliff and thin strands of water flow over the rugged boulders. Gorgeous wildflowers paint a lovely panorama during the spring and the natural pool provides a refreshing swim.

Hemlock Falls Trail

Distance: 1.0 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate

Tackle this slightly more challenging hike to reach another magnificent waterfall of Umpqua. The trail has a couple of steep patches but is surrounded by beautiful ferns, moss, flowers and downed trees.

Watching the Hemlock Creek flow through the gorge is among the most peaceful sights in Umpqua National Forest.

Clover Falls Trail

Distance: 1.8 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate

Reaching the waterfalls in this section of Umpqua National Forest can be a bit tricky but the views are worth the reward. Start from Lake of the Woods Campground and head towards Hemlock Lake before encountering a series of falls.

Venture off-trail and descend a steep grade to gain a better vantage point of Clover Falls. Apply bug spray before trudging through thick vegetation to reach the base of the falls.

Other Things to Do in Umpqua National Forest

When you are finished chasing waterfalls, you have your choice of exhilarating action or relaxation. Nestled along the Cascade Mountains, Umpqua National Forest is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts.

From swimming in the lakes to climbing the mountaintops, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Twin Lakes Trail

Distance: 3.5 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

The Twin Lakes Trail is a fantastic location for those looking to spend the night in Umpqua National Forest. Have a relaxing picnic, go fishing and enjoy the simple campsites before completing the trail.

Hike around the sparkling lakes, smell the radiant wildflowers in bloom and watch butterflies coasting in the breeze. There is an overlook nearby with an incredible bird’s eye view of the two lakes but requires a detour off the looped path.

Umpqua Hot Springs Trail

Distance: 0.6 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate

OK so this is barely a trail but it’s a perfect spot AFTER you’ve hit the trails. Unwind in the revitalizing geothermal hot springs of Umpqua National Forest at the end of this short climb. The terraced pools provide a fabulous view overlooking the Umpqua River as you rest your legs.

Umpqua National Forest - Umpqua Hot Springs
Umpqua Hot Springs

Arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds and have a more relaxing experience inside the hot springs.

NOTE: The trail becomes about 2-miles if you’re visiting in winter. Read our guide below for more tips.

RELATED: 11 Things to Know Before Going to Umpqua Hot Springs

Summit Mt. Thielsen

Distance: 9.2 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Hard

Daredevils will have the time of their lives climbing the summit of the spired Mt. Thielsen. With nearly 4,000-feet of elevation gain, the craggy trail is the most heart-racing adventure in Umpqua National Forest.

Although the first portion of the trail is a relaxing stroll through the forest, it is important not to underestimate the steep, loose terrain towards the summit. The final 80-foot ascent of the ‘lightning rod’ can be unsettling but the scenic vistas of the sapphire-blue Crater Lake are spectacular.

Pay close attention to the weather as snow on the trail could make reaching the summit more difficult.

Diamond Lake

For a more relaxing getaway, Diamond Lake is the perfect spot for year-round fun in the outdoors. Enjoy the incredible views of the towering Mt. Thielsen while taking a boat or kayak on the water. The peaceful waters are a fishing haven but make sure you know which species are allowed in your catch.

Diamond lake with Mt.Thielsen in the distance.
Diamond Lake with Mt.Thielsen in the distance.

Diamond Lake also serves as a fabulous starting point to explore several of the breathtaking Umpqua waterfalls we’ve discussed here. And with 238 lakeside campsites, you never have to travel far to experience more of the forest’s pristine beauty. Camping here would be a great base for exploring Umpqua National Forest.

RELATED: Hiking Mount Thielsen and Staying Near Diamond Lake

Lemolo Lake

The North Umpqua Hydroelectric project manages the reservoir that makes up Lemolo Lake. With Mount Thielsen towering in the distance, this lake offers up numerous activities including swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and even water skiing.

The nearby Lemolo Falls Trail is down the way from this lake and there’s a campsite as well as a resort on the lake.

The beauty of Lemolo Lake in Umpqua National Forest
Lemolo Lake in Umpqua National Forest

We hope this guide to Umpqua National Forest was helpful! Check out more things to do in Central Oregon and other adventures around the state.

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