Right at the beginning of the “Dread and Terror” section of the North Umpqua Trail, there are 3 unique and interesting waterfalls.

If you were wondering about the name, this section was named by a couple of rangers eons ago who were worried about the potential of fighting fires along this part of the river.  The bits I’ve hiked are actually pretty calm.  There are also places through here where the mighty North Umpqua River peacefully strolls along no wider than about 15-20 feet.


This cluttery area of river looks like a wetland, though the river is running through.


Nice swampy area here.

Surprise Falls is just that, a surprise.  It pops right out of the ground without any water source above it.  And not just immediately above it on the trail: it could be possible for it to come from Loafer Creek 0.25 miles away, my guess is that its most likely source is an underground aquifer.


One fascinating aspect of this feature is the water disappears into the moss, which soaks it up like a sponge.


Very cool waterfall.

About 100 yards down the trail is the next waterfall, also a unique one…


This waterfall is named Columnar Falls, due to the type of basalt that comprises it.  I haven’t really seen any place quite like this, where water flows directly over, around, behind, and through a columnar basalt wall.  Very unique.  And like Surprise Falls, there is no water source above it that flows above ground.

This is a fairly difficult place to photograph because it sits literally on the trail and it’s so wide.  Mostly, you just stand and stare, wondering, “Is this real…?”

The third waterfall is about 0.25 miles down the North Umpqua Trail.


Misty Grotto Falls is the name of this one, though it is neither unusually misty nor is it a grotto.

There’s really only one angle to photograph this fall, and that is direct.  It is kind of an odd fall because it comes plowing off the hill directly at you on the trail. Because of this, it does a solid job of cooling hikers on hot days.


I turned around at Loafer Creek, which was fairly stout at this time (it was high-water time).


A well-defined separation along the creek between conifer and deciduous.


I kind of like these messy leaf litter shots.