In February 2016, we visited the Molalla River Recreation Area, which offers a scenic drive along the Molalla River as well as opportunities for camping, boating, swimming, and of course, waterfalls.
Lower Shotgun Falls is only about 300 feet off the road. The “trail” hugs the creek and crosses right in front of this 15-foot drop.
From here, we scrambled up the hill to the right of the falls for a closer look at Shotgun Falls.
Since this was such a short hike, we decided to keep driving and see if we could find more waterfalls. We drove toward the Table Rock Trailhead and were not disappointed.
We found two tall waterfalls fairly close to each other, both on what appear to be unnamed streams, and both dropping into the Molalla River on the opposite bank from the road. Based on the streams’ limited volume in February, I would suspect these waterfalls dry up in the summer. Even if they don’t, views would be obscured by tree leaves, so winter is definitely the season to visit.
Another reason to visit in winter is to play in the snow! We did not make it to Table Rock Trailhead before snow made the road unsafe to continue. So we got out and walked for a while, enjoying the beauty of the snow-covered mountains around us. We crossed paths with a couple of snowshoe hikers who had made the trek to Table Rock, and they said the hike was difficult even with snowshoes, but worth it.
On the way back out, we passed another waterfall that we had missed the first time we drove by. It’s a small drop a couple hundred feet off the road. This was the prettiest of our unexpected finds.
We also found directions (albeit poor ones!) to a waterfall on Copper Creek Road. This split drop is adjacent to the road, impossible to miss. I am pretty sure this stream is Bull Creek, and therefore I am labeling the cascade Bull Creek Falls.
So, even though none of the waterfalls was amazing or required much hiking, we enjoyed the day’s adventures of successful waterfall hunting in a beautiful area of our state.
I later discovered that we missed a named waterfall in this area: Horse Creek Falls. We went back in November 2017 to see it. It’s actually pretty easy to find, but the best views would be gained from downstream. We parked on the far side of the bridge, walked underneath the bridge on the downstream side, and followed the edge of the river for a while to try to get to the waterfall. This is not a recommended method, though. The river is too close and too fast for my comfort, and the view is not worth it. I would suggest trying to find a view from the opposite side of the river, but we didn’t have time to explore that area. The only sure fire way to get a good view would be to go out in a boat!
My rating: Worth the Effort (2 stars)
Lower Shotgun & Shotgun: Waterfall – 2 stars, Trail – 2 stars, Experience – 2 stars
All others: 1 star in each category
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour and a half drive southeast
Nearest town: Glen Avon
Nearest city: Salem
Length of round-trip hike: 1/8th of a mile
Best season to visit: Any
Toilet / Amenities: There are some restrooms at the Hardy Creek Trailhead, approximately two miles before reaching Shotgun Falls. The BLM brochure says that there are also restrooms at the Ivor Davies Wayside, which is where you park to visit Shotgun Falls, but the map doesn’t show them, and I honestly can’t remember seeing them or not. Sorry!
How to get there:
- From downtown Molalla, head east on Main St/OR 211. Veer right at the OR 211/Mathias Rd intersection, following signs for Feyrer Park.
- Once past Feyrer Park and over the Molalla River, follow signs for Dickey Prairie and turn right on Dickey Prairie Rd.
- After 5.25 miles, turn right on Molalla Forest Rd and cross Glen Avon Bridge.
- Proceed another 5.5 miles to a wide turnout on the right shortly before a sheer cliff parallels the road. This is the Ivor Davies Wayside.
- Park and walk up the road for 200 feet to the creek. A path leads along the right side of the creek to the falls.
- To view the other waterfalls, continue southeast on Molalla Forest Road approximately 5.67 miles to the junction with Horse Creek Road and Upper Molalla Road.
- Turn right onto Horse Creek Road and cross the river. Park immediately after the bridge. The waterfall is downstream from the bridge.
- Go back to the junction and take Upper Molalla Road approximately 1.5 miles to the junction with Rooster Rock Road.
- Turn right onto Rooster Rock Road. After approximately .6 mile, veer right onto Copper Creek Road. Continue for approximately .5 mile, and Bull Creek Falls will be on your left.
- Return to Upper Molalla Road and continue in the same direction as before. At some point in this vicinity, the road becomes Table Rock Road.
- Follow Table Rock Road for approximately 2.36 miles to view the first unnamed waterfall on your left.
- Another .13 mile will bring you to a view of Unnamed Waterfall #2.
- Continue on to Table Rock trailhead if you wish, or turn around and travel back the way you came. From the 2nd unnamed waterfall, drive 1 mile to view Unnamed Waterfall #3 on your right.