Horseshoe Falls / Ayers Creek

We have not taken this trip yet.  The falls are located on private property owned by Longview Fiber Company, which only allows adults to hike to the falls.  The trails are not marked as trails and require bushwhacking.

Confession:  Ayers Creek and Upper Ayers Creek are recommended for experienced bushwhackers only, but I left them on my list because I figure we will have plenty of bushwhacking experience by the time my son is old enough to visit these falls.  I do feel that I should pass the warning along to you, however, since I promised that my list would not involve difficult bushwhacking.

Although these falls are very close to Shellburg Falls, it might be best to visit them at different times of year.  I recommend visiting Shellburg in the summer, and both Ayers Creek and Upper Ayers Creek run dry in the summer.  Horseshoe Falls flows year-round.


My rating: N/A – future trip for us

Distance from Beaverton: About an hour and a half drive southeast

Nearest town: Mehama

Nearest city: Salem

County: Marion

Length of round-trip hike: .4 mile (Horseshoe), .7 mile (Horseshoe & Ayers Creek), 1 mile (all 3 waterfalls)

Best season to visit: Winter or spring

Things to know:

  • Adults only.
  • Be prepared to get muddy and wet.
  • Recommended for experienced bushwhackers only.
  • Some driving on gravel roads is necessary.

Consider combining this trip with:  Shellburg Falls, Lower Shellburg Falls, and Stasel Falls.  Also, the Gingerbread House in Mehama serves a surprisingly delicious hamburger!

Toilet / Amenities: none

How to get there:

  • From Highway 22 in Mehama, turn north on Wagner Road.
  • Drive 2.4 miles.  Immediately after crossing Stout Creek, turn left on an unmarked gravel road.  Park near the gate without blocking the gate.
  • Walk about 500 feet up the gravel road to a turnout on the left, where you should find a faint but fairly obvious boot trail that leads steeply down into the canyon.  You should reach the base of Horseshoe Falls in about 500 feet.
  • Return to the gravel road and walk about 500 more feet to the second right-hand bend in the road. Looking off to the left you will be staring into the canyon of Ayers Creek. Simply pick a place to start, and drop down the slope for another 200 feet to the rim of the gorge and views of Ayers Creek Falls.
  • Return to the gravel road and walk about 200 more feet to a large pullout with a small gravel pile in it.  (The pullout is about a quarter of a mile from the gate where you parked.)  From here, plunge into the woods and head straight for Ayers Creek.  You’ll be above the falls at this point, so cross the creek and then head downstream to the canyon rim.  There was a faint animal path which allowed easy travel around the rim of the canyon to where clear views of the falls can be had.

Helpful websites:


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