UNIVERSITY FALLS. Taken August 6th, 2015.
If you find yourself taking Highway 6 to the Oregon Coast or you’re spending a weekend camping at one of the many campsites along this highway, I strongly encourage you to make a quick detour to University Falls. I’ve driven by it countless times and, had I known about it sooner, I would’ve been making this place a regular stop! It’s only a 3.5 mile drive up smooth gravel roads to the trailhead and just over a half mile roundtrip hike through a serene, lush forest of alders & ferns to see these wonderful falls.
From the trailhead parking area, numerous trails for both hikers and off-highway vehicles (OHV) head in different directions. Head up the trail that has a wooden signboard for University Falls and the Gravelle Brothers Trail (begins just past the lot on the same side of the road; ignore the much wider OHV trail next to it). You will start up walking up an incline, quickly cross two OHV roads (your trail continues directly on the other side of these roads), and begin a somewhat steep descent into a magnificent forested canyon.
After only ¼ mile, reach a wide open junction with numerous trails: instead of following the larger trails straight or to the right, look for a small trail through the shrubbery to the left. As of early August 2015, there is a sign for University Falls on this trail with someone’s handwritten arrows as a reference. Following this trail, cross a footbridge and follow the creek around the corner to the falls--such a beautiful sight, you will experience a brief moment of celebration at what has suddenly appeared in front of you! Once you've had your fill, return the way you came.
Difficulty: easy. There are many trails in the area if you wish for a longer hike.
(Note: Although the drive is short & easy, you will be navigating forest roads with many turnoffs; pay attention to where you came from and where you're going. Especially on forest roads, it is always wise to carry a compass and a map of the area you're traveling)
1) From Portland, take Highway 26 westbound & exit left for Highway 6 toward Tillamook.
2) After ~19 miles, turn left at signs for Rogers Camp & Browns Camp
3) Immediately turn right on Saddle Mountain Rd (signs for Univ. Falls)
4) After 0.7 miles, veer right at a fork (signs for Univ. Falls) to stay on Saddle Mtn Rd
5) After another 0.4 miles, veer right at an unsigned fork (this is still Saddle Mtn Rd)
6) Almost immediately reach another unsigned junction & veer right (this is University Falls Rd); you should be crossing a small bridge after this junction
7) Continue ~1.7 miles; reach another fork & veer right
8) Parking is just over a half mile up the road on the right & clearly labeled for University Falls