- Rating: Easy
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: 3 miles round-trip
- Time: 1½ hours
Just 10 miles from Lincoln City, this easy trail makes for an ideal leg warmer during trips to and from the coast. The path meanders for 1½ miles through a 50-year-old forest, where it eventually reaches Drift Creek Falls. What makes this 75-foot horsetail waterfall stands out is the vantage point from which you’ll view it: a 240-foot-long suspension bridge, hung to a height of 100 feet, places you inside the treetops and offers a sublime prospect onto the cascade. (To erect the structure, builders had to fly materials in by helicopter.) Pair the bridge with the modest grade, and you’ve got a family-friendly hike that will still keep seasoned explorers engaged.
ROUTE: Your legs get a break at the start of the trail, which starts off downhill. At the one-mile mark, you’ll reach a 30-foot bridge, rebuilt when the 1996 flood wiped out its predecessor. It’s another half mile to Drift Creek Falls and the suspension bridge. For a ground-up perspective of the falls, continue on for another quarter mile to the edge of Drift Creek. The benches make this a perfect spot to refuel before the uphill return.
DIRECTIONS: Head south on I-5 to Rte 99W. Just before McMinnville, take Rte 18 south for 49 miles. Turn left just past Rose Lodge, onto Bear Creek Country Rd, and follow signs to Drift Creek Falls. The pavement turns to gravel after two miles, and at 3.3 miles you’ll spy a Drift Creek Falls sign directing you left at the fork onto Forest Service Rd 17. It’s 6 miles to the parking lot. A Northwest Forest Pass (or equivalent) is required and available at the trailhead ($5 per day).