Spring is waterfall time in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the best places to appreciate these natural wonders is in the little-visited Kentucky Falls Special Interest Area in Oregon’s Coast Range, east of Florence. Three gorgeous waterfalls, each more than 100 feet tall, thunder over high cliffs into an isolated, forested canyon. Surrounding these dramatic highlights are a cathedral-like old-growth rain forest and a lush tangle of ferns, mosses, shrubs, and forest wildflowers.
Take your pick: The trip can be done as an easy 4.4-mile out-and-back or a moderate 8.5-mile one-way downhill shuttle hike. From the Kentucky Falls Trailhead, it’s a 1.6-mile walk to the first waterfall. Continue another .6 mile through the Douglas fir-western hemlock forest to reach twin gushers number two and three.
Looking to make a night of it? Continue downstream to the North Fork Smith River, where several prime campsites line the water—the best two are about 5 and 7 miles in. The next morning, hike through the wooded canyon to the North Fork Smith River trailhead.
Info: (541) 902-8526; www.fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw
Hike provided by Douglas Lorain, author of 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon (Mountaineers Books)