Drift Creek Falls is a hidden gem located in the Siuslaw National Forest minutes away from the Oregon Coast. The waterfall at the end of the trail cascades down a steep cliff into a deep pool of water below. The waterfall is about 75 feet tall, and visitors can get a breathtaking view of the falls from a bridge that crosses the creek to the side.
The area surrounding Drift Creek Falls has a rich history, dating back to the Native American tribes who lived in the region. The Siuslaw people, a group of the Coos tribes, were the original inhabitants of the area and relied on the forest for food, shelter, and other necessities.
About the Siuslaw National Forest
The Siuslaw National Forest covers over 190,000 acres of land which includes coastal beaches along the Pacific Coast Highway, old-growth forests, and rolling hills. The area is home to numerous hiking trails, scenic viewpoints along the Oregon coast, and recreational opportunities.
In the late 1800s, the forest was used for logging, and many of the old-growth Redwood trees were cut down. In 1916, the Siuslaw National Forest was established, and since then, the forest has been managed for conservation and recreation.
Getting to the Drift Creek Falls Trailhead
Address of the Drift Creek Falls Trailhead: BLM Rd 1770, Otis, OR 97368
GPS coordinates of the trailhead: 44.935568, -123.855657
The Drift Creek Falls trailhead is located in a fairly remote part of the area. From Lincoln City, you can either 101 north or south, as the distance is pretty much the same. South takes you through a much more scenic route along South Drift Creek Camp Road, while going north takes you past the Drift Creek Covered Bridge. I think I prefer the southern direction since it is much more scenic.
Located along the road Forest Service Road 17, the parking lot will be along both sides of it. The trailhead will be about 12 miles down NF-17 if coming from the south.
This particular trail is a popular one, so expect crowds, especially midday on the weekends. Get here early to ensure you get a parking spot.
The paved parking lot has room for about two dozen cars, and it has restrooms as well.
There is a $5 per day fee to park, which is done online via the Forestry Service’s website.
The Drift Creek Falls Trail
The Drift Creek Falls Trail #1378 is a 3.2-mile out-and-back trail. Hiking Drift Creek Trail is rated as easy because it is so well-maintained. Visitors enjoy a leisurely hike through the coast range forest, passing over a huge suspension bridge, surrounded by towering trees and lush vegetation.
|3.2 mile (5.2 km)
|Out and Back
|Total Elevation Climb
|541 feet (165 m)
|Yes, on a leash.
|$5 Northwest Forest Pass
To begin down Drift Creek Trail, the entrance will be right in the middle of one side of the parking lot.
All the elevation gain is on the way back. On the way to the waterfall, you will walk entirely downhill, which means it’s all uphill back to the car. The path is wide, smooth, and well-maintained, so the way back up the hill isn’t too bad.
There is the optional 1-mile North Loop Trail on your left, about a third of a mile in, right after you cross over the first stream. It strolls through some old-growth trees, ferns and bushes, then loops back to the main trail. I suggest taking this extra path. It will have fewer people, and the old-growth forest is simply outstanding.
At the end of the trail, you’ll cross a huge suspension bridge 100 feet over the canyon floor that has views of Drift Creek Falls. The waterfall is about 75 feet tall.
Siuslaw National Forest Weather
The weather in the Siuslaw National Forest is typically mild, with temperatures ranging from the high 40s to low 60s during the winter months, and from the mid-60s to the mid-70s during the summer months.
The area is known for its high levels of rainfall, and visitors should be prepared for rain and damp conditions, especially during the fall and winter months. The path can get quite muddy after a heavy rainfall.
If you intend to visit in the winter, be prepared for snow-covered roads. The Forestry service does not plow their roads.
Other Nearby Attractions
There are several other trails in the Siuslaw National Forest that are worth exploring, including the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, which offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding forests. Another popular trail is the Cummins Creek Trail, which takes visitors through a beautiful forest and past several waterfalls.
In addition to the trails, there are several other significant points of interest in the Siuslaw National Forest, including the Heceta Head Lighthouse, which is located on the coast and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country and is a popular tourist destination.