Silver Falls: excellent mini-camping from Portland

At some point earlier this year, a younger version of me signed myself up for a trail half marathon in Silver Falls State Park, and then promptly forgot about it. So when I got back from Eastern Oregon and Idaho in September and got an email about day-of race information, I was pleasantly surprised to find that in just a few weeks, I would have a chance to run in a super beautiful place in a race that was totally-1-million-percent sold out (thanks for the present, past stasia!:)

South Falls Silver Falls State Park(South Falls, Silver Falls State Park. Yes, we ran behind this waterfall:)

Then came the problem, of course, of getting there. Often, I know a person or two who might also be running, and we can carpool, but this time that was not the case. Of course I could probably have borrowed a car, or perhaps reached out to the race directors to help me set up a Portland carpool, but heck! I have a bike! And the Amtrak bus will take unboxed bikes between Portland and Salem, which is closer to Silver Falls!

Thus it was that a weekend mini-adventure was born. Taking the bus to Salem meant that even on longer back roads I only had a 35-ish mile ride instead of 60-something. Which made it possible to hang out with James on Saturday morning, pack my things, make and eat a leisurely breakfast — in short, have the experience of a lazy weekend morning — before having to hit the road to get to Silver Falls. And I still got there with ample time to set up camp and explore in the daylight.

It also meant that after my run on Sunday morning, I could hang out and cheer on other finishers for a bit, eat some food, get some biking in, and still be back in Portland, again in the daylight, in time to stop for groceries, hang out with James, make dinner together, and have a cozy Sunday evening.

road to Silver Falls(plus, the riding between Salem and Silver Falls was lovely:)

Basically, the simple addition of bike-friendly transit turned something that could have taken an entire (and perhaps exhausting?) weekend into a mini-weekend adventure, bookended by Portland coziness.

So I’m psyched. A bike trip, sleeping in the woods, waking up to birds, running in a beautiful place (it’s hard to want to run fast when there are so many beautiful thing to see!), feeling like I’ve had a full adventure, and still having time in Portland? This is the stuff that dream weekends are made of:) And things like pairing bikes with transit make it possible.

Yes, the Amtrak bus is more expensive than regional transit. But even so, I’d definitely add Silver Falls State Park to the list of places that one can easily get to from Portland, even for only a weekend, sans car.

Silver Falls State Park(More pictures? Yes, a few, here)


  1. Schmendrick the Magician

    I love Silver Falls. My family used to have summer picnics there. After we had filled our bellies with fried chicken and Jo-Jos, we would saunter on down the Trail of 10 Falls and hit up the first four or so, before looping back to the trailhead. I may have to hit up this race in the future. It sounds like an amazing place to run, as long as the footing wasn’t too terrible.

    • “Schmendrick the Magician” ? ;)

      It’s a pretty magical place. And it’s definitely an amazing place to run. It was a bit muddy, but not too bad. Sometimes a little rocky, but pretty good for the most part! The trails in Tryon Creek State Park might be a good comparison, actually–I bet you’d be into it.

      (Though I think you basically have to register for it immediately, since it sells out pretty quickly. Which I think is how I ended up forgetting about it, since I registered soooo long before the actual race.)

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