This is a mix of two trips I took to the very touristy Toketee Falls, with the second trip yielding new results.

The first trip was a family trip last summer and the second was a solo trip just the other day.  One trip, the pictures did not turn out with the old camera, while I had better luck with the new camera the second time around.

Toketee Falls defines “tourist destination site”.  You drive across to the north side of the North Umpqua River, then hike along a very nice trail furnished with handrails and multiple benches along the way, a large and comfortable viewing platform.  Aside from a full parking lot all day long, the main problem with Toketee Falls is that you never get to see them straight-on.  Many moons ago, Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey showed me this little goat path just off the highway on the south side of the river.


First trip, on the goat path, probably the only picture from that trip that was close to decent.


A peek down into the interesting geology in the small cove next to the falls.


This is the official trail as viewed while zooming in from the perch.


This is the opposite view.  The black blur across the bottom is the fence railing.


Here, the red line traces under the trail.  The part where the slide is happening is…precarious…to say the least.  And even once you get out on the knob, there is nothing worth viewing, even without the danger.  A woman died after falling a few years ago on that little path.

Back to the car, drive around to the trailhead, onto the main trail.  There are some steep, but doable scrambles down to some nice spots along the river.  I always think of this as a creek, but it is the North Umpqua.


Some video of that area.  I poked down another 2 faint trails and didn’t find anything interesting.  One of the trails pops out right on the precipice of the main waterfall, but you can’t actually see anything from there.  Well, at least anything I wanted to see.  A man died here a couple years ago, as he fell into one of the pools above the waterfall.  Nothing good happens at the precipice of a waterfall.

Here we go with the main waterfall:

Toketee Falls is a very special area.  While I usually mock these types of places and have often referred to this place in particular with a sneer, it is very beautiful.  It has always bugged me that we can only see it from the side, though.  Last trip, I peeked over the side of the viewing platform and noticed what looked like a fairly ugly little trail that made my palms a bit sweaty.  That time, my wife sternly said, “No, you may not!”  This time, I hopped the safety fence and prepared to head down.

Here’s my “for the record” about going down to the river here:

I don’t see that going down is difficult or challenging.  On an average one of my trips, its comparative risk level to other actions I take is moderate, at most.  The people who have knocked out the guardrail are jackasses and are dangerous and should not be going down if that’s how they have to do it.  IIRC, there is a sign that says to not hop the guardrail.  There is also a sign at the trailhead that shows this photo:

If you don’t want people going down, don’t put this at the trailhead.  Also, finish building the trail to the bottom.  There is absolutely no reason not to put a staircase leading down, just like there is on the rest of the trail.  Or half the other similar trails I’ve been on.  It is unconscionable to limit the view of one of the best waterfalls in the state simply because a staircase has not been built.

On with the fun.

The steep view down.  Right after I started to head down, a couple came down to the platform to watch my version of Jackass.  It is clear of much to grab on to and the ground is loose soil without much below.  If you slip, you will probably slide for a while, then fall off a solid 40’foot sheer drop.  That said, next to that branch laying across the path, there is a braided wire to grab onto.  Problem is, but the time you get to it, you don’t really need it to help steady yourself.


The view back up.  I found going back up easier and safer.  It’s a near-vertical descent/climb, but there are a lot of sturdy roots and rocks to grab onto.  There are dozens of trails in Oregon with stairs built in places like this.  They’re everywhere.  Why are they not here?

Once I came back into view, I looked back up and the couple waved.  I smiled and shrugged my shoulders, “Eh, no big deal.”  They probably thought I was crazy for heading down.  I kind of feel that it’s sometimes crazy to play it too safe.  It is much easier than I thought it would be, but I do this stuff all the time.

The next three photos are from the platform, part way down, then all the way down.


This is a very cool hole to sit in.  It is fairly easy to move around due to the massive collection of large logs and rocks along the bank.

These falls from this view are overpowering.  I have a new-found respect for Toketee Falls after this experience.  The columnar basalt, the waterfall, the pool.  Very, very nice.  Unfortunately, I wasted a large amount of time on the earlier portion of the trip wasting time above the falls sitting around, thinking, enjoying myself, which left little time to take in this scene.  Maybe next time.