Day 6: Sublimity to Silverton - Willamette Valley Covered Bridges - CycleBlaze

June 25, 2022

Day 6: Sublimity to Silverton

Last night I bought frozen breakfast entrees at the supermarket because the motel doesn't serve breakfast and restaurants are far away in the wrong direction. It worked out well. The Jimmy Dean breakfast bowl is pretty good.

I was on the road at 8:50, pedaling north through the town of Sublimity which is an old town that looks new and suburban. It's now a satellite suburb connected to Salem by the OR 22 expressway.

Today I shift gears from covered bridges to waterfalls. When starting in a low river valley, there's only one way to get to waterfalls-uphill. The climb to Silver Falls State Park is the biggest single climb of the tour. A 1280 foot (390 m) climb from Sublimity to the park entrance, plus a few rollers to add still more climbing.

I knew from the beginning that I would be pedaling through Oregon's most-visited state park on a Saturday. I have visited Silver Falls State Park twice before on weekdays.

Traffic wasn't awful going up. All the traffic was going up like me. Because nobody was going down it was easy for the overtaking traffic to get around me. The traffic included motor homes and pickup trucks towing horse trailers. And cars with out of state license plates that I seldom see elsewhere.

Beginning the long climb to Silver Falls State Park.
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The bottom part of the climb passes several huge Christmas tree farms. The upper part of the climb is more forested and has few views of the valley below. I was dreading the big climb but the grade is only 4-5%. It's long and relentless but not very steep.

Looking down on the Willamette Valley from near the high point.
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I entered the park at the summit, then descended several hundred feet to the South Falls complex which has vast parking lots. I arrived at 11:15. Not bad. I parked at the trailhead and hiked the 1 mile loop to South Falls.

First view of South Falls from above.
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The trail was far more crowded than I had seen before. I often had to wait for people to pass by before I could move forward. I wouldn't say that the crowd ruins the experience, but it definitely changes the experience. I heard so many languages that it seemed cosmopolitan compared to the covered bridges that I usually had to myself.

Trail to South Falls.
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South Falls is one of two walk-behind waterfalls that I see today. South Falls and North Falls both have big caves behind the plunge. Part of the South Falls cave is man-made.

South Falls.
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It's hard to take good waterfall photos in the middle of a sunny day. The contrast between sun and shade is hard to manage. Waterfalls look best in full shade.

Cave behind South Falls.
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The trails have many wet spots but I wouldn't characterize them as muddy. The trail is mostly gravel, not dirt. Of course spray from the waterfall can easily blow onto the trail.

South Falls.
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Cave behind South Falls.
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Back on the bike I pedaled to the far end of the parking lot to find an unoccupied picnic table and ate a sandwich. Then on the road it's mostly uphill 3 miles to the much smaller North Falls parking lot. From there you can walk upstream to Upper North Falls or downstream to North Falls. I decided to go downstream first. The middle of the trail includes 78 stairs to get down to the level of the cave. It's a short easy hike. The far end of the cave is less than half a mile from the parking lot.

Trail to North Falls.
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North Falls isn't as busy as South Falls because the parking lot is less than 1/10 the size. On a previous visit I hiked the 7 mile Trail of Ten Falls which I highly recommend. The trail goes behind four of the ten waterfalls.

North Falls from inside the cave.
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North Falls has the largest cave of the four walk-behind waterfalls. It must be very hard rock above and very soft rock below.

North Falls has a very deep cave.
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Scott AndersonNice shot. It gives a really good feeling for this amazing place.
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2 months ago
Wayne EstesI also thought that this is the only photo that accurately conveys the size of the cave.
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2 months ago
North Falls.
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From North Falls I hiked back up to the trailhead, then upstream 0.3 mile to Upper North Falls. You can't walk behind this waterfall but it's an attractive plunge in a box canyon.

Trail to Upper North Falls.
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Upper North Falls wide view.
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Upper North Falls.
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From Upper North Falls I expected it to be downhill all the way to Silverton. But there are actually several big rolling hills before the big descent. I was tired but making good time. I arrived at Silverton at 3:30 PM, early enough to have a nap before dinner. The temperature was 87F. The high was 90F. It was warmer in Silverton than up at the waterfalls.

One of several Christmas tree farms I saw today.
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Silverton has been a resort town for a hundred years, since the state park opened. It has many Craftsman style homes.

Coming into Silverton.
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Silverton.
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I checked in to Silverton Inn and Suites for a 2 night stay. The inn is on the edge of downtown, close to all the services and entertainment. Silver Creek runs just west of Main Street.

Silver Creek in the middle of Silverton.
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I found the little Silver Creek covered bridge which is a pedestrian bridge with a bonus feature-overhanging balconies with benches overlooking the creek. It's a practical feature. The bridge is useful for pedestrians but not for cyclists because of 12 stairs on the Main Street side.

Silver Creek covered bridge, built in 2000 mostly of metal.
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Silver Creek covered bridge is not historic, built in 2000. And it's not a wooden covered bridge. The structure is made entirely of metal, even the roof. The deck and a bit of decorative siding are made of wood to make it resemble a wooden covered bridge.

Silver Creek covered bridge has overhanging balconies on both sides.
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I had dinner at the Noble Fox bar and grill, sitting at the bar watching the bartender work furiously to make fancy mixed drinks that I never heard of. I drank a local IPA instead. It was good but expensive, like the motel. Resort town prices and quality.

Silverton is a great place to take a rest day. It's a charming historic resort town and most everything is within 5 blocks of my motel.

I'm not sore but I'm very tired, ready for a rest day. The timing is good for a rest day because tomorrow is predicted to be 95F, the hottest day of the trip.

Distance: 31.3 mi. (50.1 km)
Average Speed: 8.3 mph (13.3 km/h)
Ascent/Descent: +2213/-2422 ft. (+675/-738 m)
Hiking: 3 miles (5 km)

Today's ride: 31 miles (50 km)
Total: 265 miles (426 km)

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