One of the many places we really wanted to visit during our trip to the Pacific North West was Toketee Falls. The few photos we’d seen of Toketee’s incredible Basalt rock formations made us very keen to go out of our way to hunt it down.
Toketee Falls are actually located surprisingly close to Crater Lake, and a quick stop there is a great way to break up the journey from the coast. In fact, the drive through Umpqua National Forest is stunning and well worth the drive in itself.
We’d also heard there were some hot springs near Toketee Falls (Umpqua Hot Springs), and decided to look for them before heading to the actual waterfall itself. Sadly in Canada, most natural hot springs have lost their appeal as they are generally developed into big swimming pools. We know of one near Invermere that still has its natural charm, but for the most part one never really feels like one’s in an authentic hot springs. We’d heard that these hot springs were still undeveloped, so they promised to be a beautiful and relaxing spot along our journey. We’d also heard, however, that they’d become overrun with ‘hippies’, living on-site ,doing their laundry in the pools etc. Bad rumours to be sure, but we thought we’d give it a try, as it was only five minutes from the Toketee trailhead.
Once we’d found the entrance to Toketee Falls, our GPS told us to carry on past it and keep going until we found a car park and a path that would lead us to the springs. We followed the road as it got rougher and rougher, and wondered if our GPS had, in fact, gone totally crazy. As it turned out, we quickly realized we’d definitely reached the right place as camper van after camper van started to appear along the road. We pulled into the car park, and were instantly transported to the 60’s and the grubby hippie nightmare that we’d been warned about. We weren’t really feeling like an early morning man soup marinade, so we decided to cut our losses and head back to the Toketee trail head.
From the car park, the walk to the Toketee lookout point is pretty straightforward, and it doesn’t really require too much effort. There are gentle ups and downs and we saw people of all shapes, ages and sizes attempting the path.
Once we reached the lookout, high above the river, we finally caught a glimpse of the thundering waterfall. We could see a few people down below, and knew that we had to get down there somehow.
After looking around briefly, we spotted a tiny rope tied to the barrier and hole in the fence. We checked over the edge and saw a fairly steep, but manageable hill down, and decided we couldn’t leave without following the path down. It was pretty well worn, with plenty of roots to hold on to, but still a little bit tricky nonetheless. If you don’t like to get your hands dirty then this path probably isn’t for you. Once again, as this hike is a little bit hairy, we recommend you exercise caution and only act within your abilities!
Once we were at the bottom, we hurdled a big log jam and suddenly found ourselves at the water’s edge and the most incredible sight. The giant falls had carved a huge oasis out of the rock, with a large plunge pool surrounded by some incredible angular Basalt rock formations.
Toketee certainly lived up to its photos, and what better way to reward ourselves than with a refreshing swim!
The entry to the water was fairly treacherous, so the situation obviously called for a cannonball.
A word of warning.. it was a beautiful sunny day, but that water is COLD. I definitely didn’t stick around for a few laps.
Mostly though, we just sat and took it all in…
I learnt a long time ago that bringing a towel on a hike is always a good idea, as you never know when you might need it… Once again I was proven right, and I would definitely recommend bringing swimming clothes along if you’re thinking you might be up for a dip!
Fortunately, we were able to have a while to ourselves down at the fall, but as we were leaving a few groups arrived. Then as we were trekking out we passed several more groups. As with most so many other places we’ve been, we’ve found that the early bird catches the worm and we’d really recommend an early start on this walk if you want to beat the crowds. The
Toketee Falls really are a bucketlist item, and a must see if you’re going to be visiting Oregon and have time to drive around and explore a little bit!
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