In the past couple years there has been a movement on social media to not tag or tell people where some amazing places are because they don’t want people to swarm, trample, ruin places. Or they just want to know they will have it to themselves when they visit. While I agree mostly with this, there are times where I do not. I should note that this wouldn’t be a problem if 100% of tourists could be responsible and respectful, but we live in an age where an instagram picture trumps all.
I love to hike and explore. Whether it’s through a national forest, the desert or up a mountain, I love it. My opinion of what the outdoors can do to a person may be considered silly, but I believe it can do wonders physically and mentally. It teaches us to respect mother nature and the natural beauty our world holds. It can sooth the soul, the mind and give you a moment of quiet and peace. It gets the heart rate up to promote a good healthy heart and the fresh air is always good. So how do you promote this without letting people know that there are destinations to a hike. Sometimes that is the push you need. You want to see that incredible waterfall, deep gorge or 360 view from the top. Or just challenge yourself after being a couch potato for years (me). I try and be as responsible of a hiker as possible and push that message to others, but sometimes I do not even know when a barrier is pushed, so you can call me out if you need to. Other than leave no trace (garbage), respect signs and closed trails.
I share this hike because it became one of my favorites in Oregon right away. It is nestled in between Sisters, Oregon and Salem, Oregon along highway 22. An easy day hike if you are driving through or are camping in nearby Detroit, Oregon.
Hike to Marion Falls in Oregon
Miles: 4.5 R/T ♦ Elevation Gain: 8,00′ ♦ Trail Type: Out and Back ♦ Trail: Easy/Moderate
The Hike to Marion Falls is beautiful and not too strenuous at the beginning. All the information you need to get to the parking lot is below.
Make sure to stop at the beginning of the trail for information and to fill out a permit since you enter Mount Jefferson Wilderness. Permits are always free.
The trail starts off with a steady incline. This trail is relatively short, but still has multiple stops along the way. One of my favorite things about this trail is that most of it is wide enough for you and a companion (whether it be dog or human) to walk next to each other. If your destination is the falls and only the falls, I would not bring fiddo with. The scramble to the bottom is not one where you would want to carry or let them maneuver by themselves. If you are headed to Marion Lake, it’s perfect for them.
In the spring and fall you will have tons of very small stream crossings along the way and good stops for the pups to get some water.
The first scenery change is about a mile in when you reach the first lake. Lava rock creates your trail to a beautiful reflection lake.
Lake Ann. We got there when there wasn’t any movement and even with the clouds, it was pretty awesome!
After 1.6 miles is the fork in the road. I had read a lot of articles that said this was hard to find and that you really needed to bring a gps or watch. As you can see, it is not hard to see or find.
You head right on the Marion Outlet Tr.
The next part is kind of fun in finding and this could potentially be where you might get a little lost. We were told to count our steps. We did around 230 when we found the spot to take a right.
All along this trail were many different types of mushrooms. Different sizes, colors and shapes. I wish I had a little more knowledge with mushroom hunting.
After you take the right after your counted steps, it’s about 10-15 minutes (depending on how fast you walk) to the next place you need to find. This is where I will leave it to seasoned hikers to figure out. You really don’t need to be. Before the turn you will make it to the first waterfall. Which is called Gatch Falls.
You then will feel before you see Marion Falls.
The scramble down starts after this point. It’s pretty obvious where it is. A hint, it’s about 15′ after you walk along an entire rotted tree trunk. You will have to get down and a bit dirty, but it is worth it for the view of both waterfalls together.
Hike to Marion Falls and Trailhead Information
I left this for the end, but the only negative to this trail is that it is popular for horseback riders. That isn’t the negative part. I love that there are trails for people to use, but they don’t have to pick up the horse poo, so if busy or starting after a group, you will be dodging horse poo.
There are bathrooms and a picnic bench at the trailhead as well as a place for horses to be tied.
Distance: 4.5 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 800′
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash
Family Friendly: Yes
There is a lower and upper parking lot. Horse trailers park in the lower and cars and small vans can park in the upper. There is room for about 12-15 cars with a turnaround area.
Lower Parking Lot: 44.577327, -121.895331
Upper Parking Lot: 44.576893, -121.894022
Parking Fee: $5/day/vehicle or a Recreation Pass
Permits: Yes (FREE)
Trailhead: 44.576822, -121.894445
Best Time: Late Spring through Fall
Forest: Willamette National Forest
Other Uses: Fishing, Birding, Horseback Riding, Trail Running, Lake Use, Photography and Camping
Access: All Year
USDA Website for Area Status & List of Other Trails you can Access: Marion Falls Trail
Since we RV, here is some information for the RV campground we stayed at and loved! Full hook ups and in the fall there is usually a discount, so per night it was only about $26. Our spot was absolutely the largest campground spot we have ever been in. A lot of the sites had an uneven start but leveled where your RV would sit. They all had fire pits and picnic benches and the site below was considered lake side. The river that feeds the lake was damned so you didn’t see too much, but it was an interesting walk. During the summer there is a boat launch for non motorized.
Detroit Lake State Recreation Area Campground – Reservation Information
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3 thoughts on “Hike to Marion Falls in Oregon”
I didn’t know there were falls but Marion Lake! This is going on my list, thanks for sharing!
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Of course! I hope you are able to get back to the area!
Great description of a beautiful hike. Like your thoughts about the benefits of nature and the care to be taken with spaces we all can share.