Willamette Valley and Silver Falls State Park
The Willamette Valley is a 150-mile stretch of fertile land borValleyby 3 mountain ranges. The Willamette River runs through the whole valley with many other rivers and streams crisscrossing the valley.
It is home to Oregon’s largest cities where 70% of the population lives – including Portland, Eugene and Salem, the state capital. Read the full article about Portland here.
Today, the Willamette Valley is famous for its numerous wineries spread over 19,000 acres.
The Cascade Mountains form the eastern edge of this valley with lush forests and roaring waterfalls. A visit to the Valley is not complete until you venture into the Silver Falls State Park to enjoy the falls and the hiking trails.
The best way to enjoy the area is by hiking the trails between the waterfalls in the morning, then going on wine tasting tour through the 500+ wineries dotting this valley.
Willamette Guided Tour
I recently went with Evergreen Escapes on their “Willamette Valley Wine & Waterfalls” Tour and enjoyed every minute.
The tour was very well planned and took the whole day to complete. Our guide, Adam Sawyer, was awesome. He happens to also be an author of travel guidebooks, so he really knows and enjoys his stuff.
Silver Falls State Park
We started with a morning visit to the Silver Falls State Park where we explored 3 beautiful waterfalls. The falls in this park are different from the Columbia River Gorge. Those falls were formed by cooling lava flows that created granite overhangs over deep ravines.
The park has 10 waterfalls spread out over 8 miles. You can hike a trail that connects all 10. We didn’t have enough time to try this hike, but we did visit 3 of the most amazing waterfalls. I especially enjoyed hiking behind 2 of the waterfalls, North Falls and Lower South Falls.
Lower South Falls has a trail that takes you down into the ravine and into a grotto behind the fall. From the grotto, you can watch the gushing water from the lip of the lava flow and the trees and river down below.
When you are done enjoying the waterfall from the lower trail, you can climb back up and take a detour to the right to see the waterfall from the top.
While we were doing this short hike, and enjoying the scenery, our guide was preparing some French Press Coffee for us. It was a welcome surprise as we trekked back to the van.
Watch an amazing video below highlighting the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park.
At the first winery, “Coelho Winery”, we enjoyed a picnic lunch which was catered by a local Portland restaurant. The sandwiches we delicious and just what we needed after our morning exertions. After our lunch, we tried a few wines by Coelho. The Pinot here was ok, but nothing special.
Our next stop was at “Brooks Wines” where we met Gerry, the local wine expert. He spent some time explaining the history of the winery and some interesting facts about wine tasting. He really made our visit very special.
Gerry also showed us how to read the sweetness level on the bottle and how to age wine at home. The Reds and White he offered were very tasty. I really enjoyed being this winery.
The tasting room is set in a warehouse-style room with wine-making equipment all around, including behind the tasting bar.
Along with wines, they sell honey, chocolates and Hazelnuts. I especially liked the Hazelnuts with daring flavors. The Hazelnuts are produced right here in the valley.
The tour with Evergreen Escapes was one of the best tours I went on during my visit to Portland. I would definitely go with them again.