Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thundering Waters: Toketee Falls, July 6th, 2010

Toketee Falls is one of the most beautiful falls in Oregon, roaring out of a narrow gorge on the North Umpqua River. Toketee means “graceful” or “pretty’ in Chinook jargon, an apt name for a waterfall spilling 80ft over columnar basalt into a deep green splash-pool. An upper tier brings Toketee’s combined height to 120ft.

On the way back from Crater Lake, my friend and I camped at nearby Clearwater Falls, and hiked the quarter-mile trail to Toketee the next morning. The trail leaves a parking lot next to a huge, old, wooden pipe, part of an upstream hydroelectric project. Recently closed to repair storm damage, the newly opened trail follows wooden staircases and boardwalks through old-growth forest, ending at a viewing platform above the pool. The morning light made photography difficult, but the falls were stunning anyway, surrounded by steep cliffs, tall trees, and the roar of the cascade. Toketee, and the rugged beauty of the Umpqua River highway, made a fitting end to a spectacular trip.

Distance: ½ mile roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200ft (est)
Region: Umpqua National Forest
Information: Managed by the Diamond Lake Ranger District, USFS
Directions: Turn off Highway 138 near milepost 58 onto the well-signed Road 34. Stay left at the fork, cross the bridge, and find the trailhead 200ft to the left.

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