There are at least eight waterfalls accessible from Highway 6. University Falls was the first of this set for my family to visit.
We visited in early December, hoping to get some good family pictures for a Christmas card. University Falls is a scenic spot, but there is really only one angle from which to take pictures. Plus, it’s best visited in the rainy season, which means it’s too cold to play in the creek. So while this is a great, easy hike, there’s not anything spectacular about it.
From there, we traveled on to Fern Rock Falls, which is a roadside waterfall that is far enough away from the road to actually be enjoyable. This is a great spot to stretch your legs on the way back from the beach, but not necessarily a destination on its own.
My rating: University Falls – Highly Recommended (3 stars); Fern Rock – Worth the effort (2 stars)
(University: Waterfall – 3 stars, Trail – 2 stars, Experience – 2 stars; Fern Rock: Waterfall – 2 stars, Trail – n/a, Experience – 2 stars)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour
Nearest town: Gales Creek
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: University Falls is about 0.7 mile and Fern Rock is not a hike at all.
Best season to visit: Winter or spring
Things to know: If you would like a longer hike to visit University Falls, check out http://www.foresthiker.com/?page_id=50.
Consider combining this trip with: Any of the other waterfalls off of Highway 6. Stafford Falls is the closest.
Toilet / Amenities: None
How to get there:
- To get to University Falls, drive 19.1 miles on Highway 6 (from Highway 26) and turn left at the sign for Rogers Camp Trailhead and Browns Camp.
- Immediately come to the junction for Rogers Camp and bear right on Saddle Mountain Road for Browns Camp, University Falls Trailhead, and Stagecoach Horse Camp.
- After 0.7 miles on the gravel road, bear right at a signposted junction for the University Falls Trailhead.
- In 0.4 miles, after passing the Deyoe Creek Trailhead, bear right again for University Falls.
- Keep right at a second junction and cross a wooden bridge, driving for 1.6 miles on University Falls Road to another junction.
- Go right here and, in 0.6 miles, pull into the small parking area at the clearly signed University Falls Trailhead.
- A spur trail leads from the trailhead to join the Gravelle Brothers Trail. Go right at the junction.
- Cross an ORV trail under powerlines and then a road bed. After this, the trail heads steeply down towards Elliott Creek.
- At the Gravelle Brothers-University Falls Trail Junction, the Gravelle Brothers Trail heads off to the right and there’s a colorful sign for University Falls on the left. Keep left past the sign. (Going straight takes you past a hitching post and down to the creek.) Cross a wooden footbridge and head up the main creek past a stand of alder to the falls.
- To visit Fern Rock Falls, return to Highway 6 and travel about 4 more miles west. The falls are located about 29 miles east of Tillamook, or 13 miles west of the junction of Highways 8 and 6. Watch for a sign on the north side of the road stating simply “Falls” and a large turnout for parking.