Santiam State Forest – Lower and Upper Butte Creek Falls (#8)

Scotts Mill, Oregon
May 7, 2011

Info: ( This gorgeous 78 foot waterfall is the highlight of the Butte Creek Falls trail system, and the view from the viewpoint makes it all that much more impressive. The falls are viewed from atop a rocky promontory, jutting 150 feet above Butte Creek, which makes a wide 180 degree turn around the obstacle. The trail actually continues down the ledge, clinging precariously to the edge of the cliffs at points (not something I wanted to try in the rain), eventually reaching the base of the falls, and Lower Butte Creek Falls, which are located immediately below the large plunge pool of Butte Creek Falls (the lower falls are, however, very difficult to clearly see). Flowering trees can be seen adorning the basin in the spring months, some of which stand at perfect locations to frame the waterfall. KATU did even a story on these falls.
Difficulty: Easy but careful it’s slick                                                                   Distance: unknown
Jenn’s View:
I loved it even though it rained and was wet, slick, muddy —  I loved this area. It’s easy and relatively flat except in areas that I had to get great pictures but otherwise a great trail for kids and families of all ages. Just be super careful when you get to one of the falls. The ledge is quite high and slick. A dog had fallen off the ledge and died. Was on KATU news. 😦  You must go in SPRING to get the full waterfall effect. Otherwise, the waterfall display is minimal and not so grandeur! Like most waterfalls in Oregon.
Upper/Lower Butte Creek Falls are northeast of Salem, OR.

  1. On I-5 take Salem exit 256 (Market St. / Hwy 213)
  2. Head east on Market St. (note HWY 213 sign)
  3. At the second light turn left on Lancaster (HWY 213 sign).
  4. After 1.3 miles turn right on Silverton Road.
  5. In another 10 miles (while in Silverton) you will reach a three-way
    stop sign. Turn left to remain on HWY 213
  6. Turn left on 1st St.
  7. Turn right on Oak St. (HWY 213)
  8. In another 4.8 miles turn right onto Scott’s Mills Road NE
  9. In another 2.7 miles (while in Scott’s Mills) turn right onto Crooked Finger Rd.
    (go past park for McKay Falls)
  10. After 9.2 miles Crooked Finger Road turns to gravel.
  11. Note your odometer or reset your trip odometer at this point.
  12. In 2.1 miles turn left onto road CF400 (but not marked as such)
  13. In one-tenth mile the road forks. Take the right fork.
  14. In another 1.8 miles there will be a rest area with parking on the left.
  15. Trail to the falls starts here.


 I had such a crappy day the day I did this hike. The night before, I wrecked the front end of my car and then got it towed at an apartment complex and had to wait till the next morning to get it out! I was feeling quite depressed and so I loaded up the rental car that I got and took off. I printed this fall (and many others) from  But my rental car sure did get me there!
 Here is my poor wrecked car before they hauled it away 😦
 It was sunny when I left but sure did start to pour when I got there. Glad I brought my ski jacket to keep me warm. I still loved it though! The road to get there was pretty neat.  The sun shining through the trees…makes a great photo opportunity.

You’ll see the trail head to the left of you. The trail is pretty easy but be careful of the slippery rocks and mud.

The first fall I came to was Upper Butte, I think. he he. I don’t know, a fall is a fall….

You can walk down this little path to get behind the waterfall.  The water level was a little too high and it was quite muddy, so I stayed away from it. 🙂 I’m not dumb.  Did discover a little grave site.  Didn’t really see an actual grave, just the crosses.

For Spring in Oregon, it was still very cold. The jacket did get soaked but still kept me warm :).  Start traveling down the trail and you will always hear the creek. Tons of water going through.  I think Spring is a great time to go since the waterfalls are at their best display. Unfortunately, it is so wet and cold in Oregon that it deters me from actually going out and seeking them.  But once I get the bug to go, I go!

There was one part of the trail that I really wanted to get a picture of but had to practically slide down this hill and hopefully not fall in.  Pictures from my phone DOES NOT do it justice!

 It was pretty close to Lower Butte so climbed up the hill and voila, hit the next falls.  Like I said, easy trail, relatively flat…you can trail run this.

Me being a bit of a dare devil.  The cliff is pretty high but heights really don’t scare me. 

Of course Pics for my Facebook wall…he he

The trail back towards the car…you see interesting things. Someone made a chair to sit on. 

After returning to my car, I was looking for another hike to do.  Started following this road to get to a lake.

Unfortunately the higher I went, the more snow I saw until I got to the point that this rental car would not be able to go through. he he.

The END… 🙂
Go check out Santiam State Forest – Abiqua Falls blog dated October 23, 2011.  It is less than a couple of miles from here and the Fall is amazing!


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