Oregon Wild Hikes: Kentucky Falls
Beautiful waterfalls along the North Fork Smith River, near Reedsport, in the Oregon Coast Range.
Siuslaw National Forest
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: Moderate
Season: Year round.
Maps: See Siuslaw National Forest web site for more info
About the Hike
Located along the scenic North Fork Smith River
in the Oregon Coast Range, the Kentucky Falls trail never disappoint. Spring is
a great time to get out in this mature mixed-conifer forest and see
wildflowers, but any time of year is nice. The trail descends for two miles
past Upper Kentucky Falls and down to the Lower Falls where Kentucky Creek and
the North Fork of the Smith River converge with two separate and towering
waterfalls (a great place to have lunch!). Then it’s two miles back up to the
car. Moderate, 4 miles.
Kentucky Creek is located in the Siuslaw National Forest, one of the most progressive forests in the Northwest. Over the last 10 years, Oregon Wild has worked closely with Siuslaw forest managers to help design a conservation-based approach to timber production and fish and wildlife protection. Today, the Siuslaw does not log in old-growth or roadless wild areas, and instead focuses on thinning lands that have previously been impacted by logging. The result is a common-sense approach that avoids the most environmentally-sensitive areas and actually improves habitat for wildlife by restoring a more natural forest landscape.
From Eugene, take Highway 126 west towards the coast. Turn left at the Whittaker Creek sign, about 32 miles from Beltline and West 11th. Travel 1.5 miles and turn right over a bridge. (If you care to see some salmon or use the bathroom, stop at the Whitaker Creek Campground.) Drive another 1.6 miles and veer left onto the uphill Dunn Ridge Road. Drive 7.3 miles to the end of the pavement and turn Left onto Knowles Creek Road. After 2.9 miles you’ll reach a “Y” intersection. Stay to the right and continue for another 1.7 miles to paved road #23. Turn right here and go 2.6 miles to the Kentucky Falls trailhead. Some of these roads are a bit potholed, so go slow and be careful. Winter travel is not advised due to road and visibility conditions.