Sunday, August 16, 2015

Easy Hike to Shellburg Falls and Stassel Falls Near Mehama, Oregon

Taken from behind the falls

Shellburg Falls and Stassel Falls 

We're running out of hikes to do along HWY 22 and HWY 20 between Sisters and he valley. We decided to do this one even though we thought it would be too much elevation for us. The book has it listed as 640 feet. Turns out it was the easiest 640 feet we've ever done and so worth the walk! 

How to get there

Take HWY 22 from Salem towards Detroit. After just over 22 miles, turn left at a flashing yellow light. The road is called Fern Ridge Road. It's paved. You drive down this road for a little over a mile and a quarter. There's a small parking lot on the right. It's pretty small, so you should get there pretty early for this hike.

The Hike

This hike goes through open cow pastures, so if you're afraid of cows, you might not want to do this hike. For the most part, we never smelled the cows, so don't let that keep you from doing this hike. It starts off going uphill, but it's a very gradual uphill. We didn't need to take breaks and we were able to continue talking throughout the whole trip to the first part of the falls. We got a lot of pictures of the cows! Some of them just stared at us, but most of them didn't even notice us. The trail starts off pretty wide. It also has several cattle guards on it. Most of them have boards you can use to go over them if you don't want to walk over the metal slats. 

I think it's about a mile to the first waterfall. You can't really see much of it from this angle, but you'll see it better when you loop around. We went up the stairs to the upper falls first. After doing the hike, we both agreed that this was the best way to go. The trail changes to more of a narrow hiking trail through the forest. It got a bit steeper going through this section. I'm pretty sure it was about a half mile to the waterfall the turn off. The stairs weren't too bad. Before you get to the waterfall, you can go down a side path to the left to a viewpoint for the waterfall. You really should go down there. It's downhill so you have to come back up, but it's worth it. 

After you take your fill of pics, head back from the viewpoint and head towards the waterfall. You can go behind it and get more pictures. I love it when you can go behind the waterfalls! There was a bench behind the waterfall too so it was a great resting spot. If you're tired, get some rest because the trail is about to get steep!

After you pass the waterfall, you get to deal with more steps. The steps were a bit steep, but we made it! Follow the path until it hooks up with a road again. At that road, go right. You'll start going downhill in a bit. It's a pretty gentle downhill. Keep an eye on the left for several rocks. I think it was about a half a mile or so. Walk through the rocks and follow the path about a 1/4 of a mile I think. (We did this hike a month ago and I thought I could use my map, but it doesn't have distances on it!) Okay, so follow that down and then path forks to the right and you can see Stassel Falls. This is on private land so don't go off the path.Get your fill of pics and head back the way you came. Then go left when you hook back up with the road so you're going the same direction as you were before you took the offshoot to Stassel Falls.

You'll end up at the lower falls. There's a picnic table there if you need a rest. You can get a decent shot of the falls from this side. After you have your fill of pics, just head past the gate and back to your car. Some of the cows probably won't have moved! They are quite the interesting little things.

Stassel Falls

Restrooms: None 

There are no restrooms at the trail head, but if you go left out of the parking lot, (heading away from Salem), there is a rest stop a couple miles down the road. It's worth going out of your way for the potty since there aren't many options for bathrooms heading towards Salem. 

Overall Thoughts

We LOVED this hike. I love waterfalls in general, so if there's a waterfall, I'm pretty much going to love the hike. I really loved this one though. There was elevation, but it was all so gentle except a few small sections near the falls. We got to see three different waterfalls on a relatively short hike. The weather was great and it was so much fun walking through the cow fields! We'll be back at this waterfall for sure. We went during a drought year. We really want to see this one during a heavy snow year during the spring snow melt! 

Lower Falls 

Polar M400 Screen Shots

This one didn't have a crazy calorie burn on it, but it also didn't take that long to do. According to the screen shot, we did this in an hour and 46 minutes, but I still had auto pause turned on. I don't know how long it really took with the breaks and stuff. 

Gaia GPS Screen Shot

I got a new app for my phone. It's called Gaia GPS. It's $19.95, which is the most I've ever paid for an app, but I love how it lays out the altitude, so I'm okay with the price. It saved me from having to buy a handheld GPS unit. I'm not sure if I'm completely thrilled with the app though because the miles show crazy numbers usually. I keep meaning to put my phone someplace other than my pants pocket to see if maybe a different location will help. 

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