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Hike the Spirit Falls

Spirit Falls

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Distance: 0.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 150 feet.

Spirit Falls is one of three different waterfalls located within close proximity of each other in Layng Creek Watershed of the Umpqua National Forest. Spirit Falls itself is a beautiful 40 foot drop that horsetails out over a rock outcrop. The basin of the falls is damp and misty, with rock covering the cliff faces and lots of downed trees spanning the channel below the falls. Spirit Falls was originally discovered in 1978 by a Forest Service employee you named it Andrea Falls after his wife. It was later changed to Spirit Falls in 1980 after a request was made by a Boy Scout troop who constructed a trail to the falls.

The trailhead to Spirit Falls is the first one you come to out of the trinity of waterfalls. The parking area, which is really just a wide spot in the road, is relatively small, with enough room for maybe 8-10 vehicles. The trail leaves out of the back end of the parking area and begins its downhill run towards the falls. The forest is beautiful, dark, and mossy and can also be home to mosquitos, ticks, and poison oak. During the winter and spring, the trail can also get quite muddy. You drop a decent amount in a fairly short distance, and you will notice it more on the way up, but it’s only 0.3 miles to the falls, so it won’t be too bad on the way back.

Spirit Falls is typical of many streams within the area, and relies mostly on snowmelt and groundwater for its flows. This means that during the summer, the falls can by a calm, lacy cascade which can turn to a raging torrent in the winter. So time your trip based on the type of falls you are in the mood for.


To reach Spirit Falls, take exit 174 off of I-5 towards Cottage Grove and Dorena Lake. Make a left and follow Row River Road for 4 miles. Then continue straight, following the signs towards Dorena Lake on Shoreline Road. After another 6.6 miles, you will remerge with Row River Road which you will follow for another 7.7 miles. Here, make a left onto Layng Creek Road towards Rujada Campground in the small community of Disston. Follow this paved, twisty road for 8.7 more miles as its winds up into the forest. When you reach an intersection next to a vault toilet, make a right and the trailhead to Spirit Falls will be .2 miles ahead on your right.

If you are coming from the east and don’t want to drive all the way into Cottage Grove, you can take a shortcut over the mountains. Just be aware that, depending on the year, snow may block the road well into May. To follow this route, continue on Highway 58 eleven miles west of Oakridge and make a left onto Patterson Mountain Road. Continue on this gravel road for 4.8 miles as it climbs up to a 4-way intersection at the saddle. There will be numerous road offshoots along the way, but identifying the main one is fairly easy, and that is the one to stay on. Once at the saddle, head straight through, following the sign to Rujada Campground. Its another 4.1 miles down form the saddle, with some pretty impressive potholes in the road, so take your time. Once you reach the vault toilet, head straight and the Spirit Mountain trailhead will be 0.2 miles ahead on your right.

Things to Know

Passes: No passes are required.

Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.

Usage: Light - Moderate

Open Season: Depending on the snow year, can sometimes be accessed throughout the year, but be sure to check snow levels. In the winter and spring, its also not uncommon for blowdown to block the road as well.

Bugs: Mosquitos are known to inhabitat the area, primarly during the early summer months.

Regulations: The Layng Creek Basin is part of the municiple water supply for Cottage Grove, so camping and swimming in the area is prohibited.

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