Since we have two kids we make the most of our chances to get away for our anniversary weekend so we don’t like to waste time traveling because our time is so limited. We had heard about the Umpqua Hot Springs for years but had never made it out there until we made it a priority to go this year for our anniversary. It was one of those amazing experiences that seemed like a dream, it was so wonderful. One of the best things about it was that we only had to drive two hours to feel like we were in our own little world.
Our original plan was to hit the 11 waterfalls on the North Umpqua River, but snow blocked roads prevented us from doing that so we just rolled with it and took our time and ended up going to Umpqua Hot Springs, Toketee Falls, Watson Falls, and Fall Creek Falls.
The first place we hit was Watson Falls. From Hwy 138 the trailhead is pretty much right off the hwy. The hike was graded as moderate and I would have to agree. It had a slight incline almost all of the way up and I would say it is easy enough to take our kid’s on. The hike up was gorgeous with lots of smaller waterfalls to enjoy along the way until you reach the main waterfall at the top. Make sure you don’t stop at the bridge. If you go up to the left you will switchback a couple times until you reach the highest point you can get to get a picture of Watson Falls. It was gorgeous! When we went back down we took the circular route which took us a little ways up the road but it was nice to see a different view because we were on the other side of Watson Creek. Altogether, the round trip took us about half an hour at a moderate pace.
Next up was Toketee Falls that is only about two miles up the road. The trail up to Toketee Falls is absolutely gorgeous. Lots of old growth trees and the beautiful, tumbling North Umpqua River are your view along the river. As we hiked the trail there was many opportunities to venture down to see the amazing rock gorge and plunges and I didn’t hesitate to explore. When we got to the viewpoint we got a great view from above but I wanted to get closer so we took the risk and basically rappelled down the side of the hill with a rope that was tied to the fence. It was probably one of the scarier things I have done, but it was so amazing down at the bottom and I was up for the challenge. Not only is Toketee Falls breathtaking but the ancient rock formations are incredible. We could have stayed there all day exploring the shore but the snow really started to come down and we wanted to get back up the cliff before it got too muddy. That memory will definitely be added to my top ten of all time.
Disclaimer: to get down to the bottom is definitely at your own risk. There are no safety rails or marked paths and if you are weary at all do not do it. What goes down must come up, so remember that you have to basically rock climb back up.
The next day we headed up to the Umpqua Hot Springs. It is past the Toketee Falls Trailhead and up the road about ½ a mile on the right side. There is no sign to tell you where to turn but if you go in the winter you will see a closed gate and that is where you will park. From the gate it is a two mile hike to the Umpqua Hot Springs parking area. There was a lot of snow but the path was pretty well beaten so it wasn’t too hard to trek. I would suggest wearing snow boots because it did get deep at times. Once again, it was another beautiful hike, with the sound of the river and seasonal waterfalls along the way. We were by ourselves the whole way so we were able to enjoy the serenity of the hike.
When we got to the trailhead we crossed the bridge and ventured through the woods for a bit until we got to the incline which was pretty steep. I had to take a few breaks along the way and there was a bit of ice so be careful if you go. Once we got to the top we were greeted with the most beautiful pools of teal green waters. Since we were the only ones there, we went through and checked the temperature of each one until we found the perfect one for us. We were lucky enough to get the whole place to ourselves for about an hour and a half and it was amazing! I am not one for hot tubs, but the water in the pool we chose was just right for us to enjoy our time taking in the view and relaxing. As if it needed to get better, it started snowing making it even more wonderful, adding to the beauty that surrounded us. Even when people finally showed up, everyone was respectful of the serenity and no one was too loud. We loved it so much we went back the same day and had just as an amazing time as the first day. The Umpqua Hot Springs were definitely the highlight of our trip and we cannot wait to go back!
Once we got done at the Umpqua Hot Springs we headed back into Roseburg and decided to stop at Fall Creek Falls on the way. It was really easy to do since the trailhead is literally right off of Hwy 138. Another fantastic hike, everything was covered in emerald green moss and Fall Creek was flowing fast with small cascading waterfalls along the way. I couldn’t get over the bedrock crevice that we had to walk through along the way adding to the enchantment of our journey. Of course the double falls at Fall Creek Falls were awesome, but we found out after we left that if we continued on up the trail we could catch an even better view. We will do that next time!
When the weather gets better we have plans to take the kids to some of the waterfalls we didn’t get to see because of the snow. In Douglas County alone there are more than fifteen or so and we can’t wait to go see each one.
SPECIAL NOTE: When you go up please take the time to pack up any trash you may have brought with you and maybe even some that may have been left behind by others. Since we went two days in a row we took a kitchen garbage bag with us and we left with it full of trash and clothes that were left behind. So sad. If we don't take care of the beautiful areas in our state they may no longer be there for us sooner than we may think. Bless up!