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McDowell Creek Falls County Park

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McDowell Creek Falls County Park: Discover the Magic of Oregon’s Waterfalls

Nestled in Linn County, Oregon, just a short drive away from Lebanon, lies the enchanting McDowell Creek Falls County Park. This hidden gem spans 110 acres and boasts a mesmerizing landscape that showcases the beauty of nature in its purest form. With its five captivating waterfalls, tranquil woodlands, picturesque bridges, and awe-inspiring viewpoints, McDowell Creek Falls County Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Gorgeous waterfalls, exhilaratingly cold water, perfect hike for mid-range hikers. Leave dogs and young children at home. Beautiful, peaceful setting.

The park takes its name from Jack McDowell, an early settler in the area who left his mark on this pristine piece of land. McDowell Creek Falls County Park is home to two prominent waterfalls, as well as three smaller falls that add their own charm to the park’s scenic beauty. The first major waterfall, Royal Terrace Falls, stands tall at nearly 120 feet. With its two terraced tiers resembling a regal palace, this waterfall truly lives up to its majestic name. The second major waterfall, Majestic Falls, is a 40 foot cascade that greets visitors with a stunning observation deck. Both waterfalls are easily accessible via the park’s well-maintained staircases and bridges. As you venture closer to each fall, you’ll discover small pools that provide an ideal spot for fishing or simply immersing yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings.

McDowell Creek Falls Wood Railing 1600

Each of the waterfalls at McDowell Creek Falls County Park is a sight to behold. The cascading waters create a mesmerizing display of nature’s power and beauty. The falls themselves are surrounded by a rich tapestry of vegetation, including delicate ferns, vibrant wildflowers, and lush mosses that adorn the rocks and trees in the vicinity. The mist generated by the rushing water adds a touch of enchantment, creating a cool and refreshing atmosphere. It’s not uncommon to see visitors standing in awe, captivated by the sight and sound of the falls. Whether you’re gazing at Royal Terrace Falls with its two-tiered majesty or standing at the observation deck admiring Majestic Falls, the experience is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The falls provide a picturesque backdrop for photographs and offer a serene and peaceful ambiance, inviting visitors to relax, rejuvenate, and connect with nature in a truly immersive way.

While the park’s natural wonders are on display year-round, the water flow of the falls can vary significantly depending on the season. To witness the falls in all their glory, it’s best to avoid the dry summer months when the water volume may be reduced. Instead, plan your visit during the vibrant fall season when the surrounding foliage puts on a breathtaking display of colors, accentuating the splendor of the cascading waters.

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One of the most remarkable aspects of McDowell Creek Falls County Park is its relatively undiscovered status. Despite its extraordinary features, McDowell Creek Falls County Park remains a hidden treasure, offering splendid scenery, five stunning waterfalls, nature-filled trails, and countless opportunities for breathtaking photographs. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a casual nature enthusiast, or simply someone seeking a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a visit to McDowell Creek Falls County Park promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of the natural wonders that Oregon has to offer.

McDowell Creek Falls County Park Trails

Embarking on one of the park’s main trails, the McDowell Creek Falls Loop, is an absolute must for visitors seeking an unforgettable adventure. This trail, with its moderate difficulty level, offers a 1.6 mile loop that showcases the park’s most breathtaking sights. Starting near the Royal Terrace Falls, the trail meanders through the enchanting woodlands, guiding you over footbridges that span the picturesque McDowell Creek. The soothing sound of rushing water accompanies you throughout your journey, serving as a constant reminder of nature’s incredible power.

As you continue along the trail, don’t miss the opportunity to ascend the stone staircase that leads to the top viewing platform of Royal Terrace Falls. The panoramic vista from this vantage point is simply breathtaking. The trail then leads you to Majestic Falls, where you can savor the view from a well-positioned observation deck. A short distance away, you’ll encounter Crystal Falls, a charming 15 foot cascade that cascades into a small, somewhat murky swimming hole during the summer months. However, the falls and pool regain their crystal clarity during other seasons. Following the trail further, you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering cedars, Douglas-firs, big-leaf maples, and hemlocks as you traverse the north bank of McDowell Creek.

What’s Nearby McDowell Creek Falls County Park

Nestled in the heart of Oregon’s natural wonders, McDowell Creek Falls County Park is surrounded by several noteworthy attractions. Just a short drive away, you’ll find the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers. Explore the diverse wetland habitats and keep an eye out for migratory birds, waterfowl, and other wildlife species that call this refuge home. For those seeking a truly enchanting experience, Tamolitch Falls, also known as the Blue Pool, awaits nearby. This ethereal turquoise-colored pool, fed by the McKenzie River, offers a surreal and captivating sight that will leave you in awe.

The Dee Wright Observatory, located in the stunning McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, provides a panoramic view of the surrounding volcanic landscape, where you can marvel at the awe-inspiring lava fields and snow-capped peaks. And no visit to the area would be complete without exploring the majestic Silver Falls State Park, known as the “crown jewel” of Oregon’s state park system. With its famous Trail of Ten Falls, dense forests, and breathtaking waterfalls, this park promises a memorable outdoor adventure. The proximity of these remarkable destinations to McDowell Creek Falls County Park ensures that visitors have a plethora of natural wonders to explore, creating an unforgettable journey through Oregon’s stunning landscapes.

McDowell Creek Falls County Park Parking Information

Throughout the park, you’ll discover three parking lots, each with its own small picnic area complete with tables and grills. These areas provide a perfect opportunity to relax, refuel, and soak in the natural beauty surrounding you. Restrooms can be found near the west parking lot (subject to change), ensuring that visitors have access to essential facilities during their visit. McDowell Creek Falls County Park’s popularity is on the rise, but don’t worry about finding a parking spot—parking is plentiful and completely free of charge (subject to change).

To reach McDowell Creek Falls County Park, follow these directions. From Portland, take I-5 South and continue for approximately 75 miles. Take Exit 228 and turn left onto OR-34. Continue on OR-34 for about 5 miles before taking the exit for Denny School Rd. After approximately 4 miles, turn right onto US-20 East and follow it for about 5 miles. Then, turn left onto Old Santiam Highway, followed by a right onto Fairview Road. After a mile, turn left onto McDowell Creek Dr and continue for 8 miles until you reach the parking area on your right. The journey from Portland typically takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Enjoy the scenic drive and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of McDowell Creek Falls County Park.

Further Reading

McDowell Creek Falls County Park Photos

Check out Carefree Creative’s photos of McDowell Creek Falls County Park

McDowell Creek Falls County Park Address & Directions

McDowell Creek Falls, Lebanon, Oregon

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