Central Oregon Hiking: Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls near Bend Oregon

Tumalo Falls and the North Fork Trail #24.2 following the waterfalls loaded Tumalo Creek is a fantastic hike up to the wildflower rich Happy Valley.  The kids and I love this hike. It’s a pretty easy 8 miles round trip adventure that, like most Central Oregon hiking trails, is packed full of stunning beauty and adventure.The trailhead starts at the impressive Tumalo Falls. We always stand and admire the falls before we start up the trail like we have never been there before. There’s something mesmerizing about the power of the falls, the roar in its crash, and the illusive rainbows that can be seen rising above its billowing mist.


After a few moments of admiring we are off, hiking up the dusty trail a mile to the next waterfall, Double Falls. The mostly shaded mile goes by quickly. The trail starts climbing as it weaves its way up close to the rambling creek and then out a bit into the peaceful forest alive with new green growth.  The kids are excited and quickly scurry up the trail. The dogs love the water and jump in at every opportunity. The trail dust all of a sudden becomes unnoticeable as we start noticing on a lot more stones in the trail, shortly before everything opens up to a rocky canyon just before the falls.The Double Falls are refreshing and the cool breeze rushing up the steep canyon walls bring a smile to your face on hot summer days.

Up another mile is the enchanting Upper Falls. You will be able to hear the falls calling before you can see them. Once you can actually see the white water through the trees, follow the little trail down to the bowl catching the crashing water for great pictures and a relaxing little break. It’s peaceful down by the water, especially as the gusting cool mist hangs in the air a little longer than expected.

Double Falls near Bend Oregon

As you continue up the trail, listen and keep your eyes open to find another smaller waterfall along the creek. The kids are still moving up the trail with ease, talking and dreaming about life. I love listening to them explain with complete confidence how their hover-craft creations will change the world. My children seem to be able to see so much farther ahead of their time while they’re out in the wilderness experiencing beauty.After you cross the log foot bridge, you will be able to hear and then see the big and beautiful waterfall on the North Fork of Tumalo Creek. You will have to scramble a little to get down to it, but it’s totally worth the challenge.

Continuing up the trail from here there are many wonderful little waterfalls scattered up the creek. The forest is mostly open and peaceful, but you’ll have to watch your step so you don’t trip over the exposed roots.There are two larger waterfalls just before the trail weaves back into the forest on its way to Happy Valley. They are beautiful and worth the time to see them

Flowers in a Happy Valley meadow, near Bend Oregon

Happy Valley is quiet, peaceful and relaxing. The dogs played in the water, the kids swatted at mosquitoes and I simply enjoyed being there.  We explored a little, but the kids lost interest and started back down the trail while I took a couple more pictures. It was still too early in the summer to capture the wildflowers in full bloom, but they were stretching out and loving the sun. If I ever bring a picnic lunch up this trail, I’ll enjoy it on the creek next to a waterfall and avoid the mosquitoes.The trip back seems quick and easy. It’s nice to see the waterfalls from a different angle, but the kids like to get down straight away and I rarely protest.  Have fun with your kids!

Joe Bales
Joe Bales creates adventure with his children. He opens doors to amazing wilderness experiences and splashes excitement and intrigue into the journey. He wars against the sedentary lifestyle with spectacular outings, capturing attention and standing in awe of natural beauty. He tweets about his adventures @alpinehikerdad and blogs at
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