Hiking to Drift Creek Falls

The past two weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of vacation, travel, Christmas, family, and the beautiful Pacific Northwest. My wife and I (with the help of a spunky little Prius named Weebs) drove nearly 1200 miles around Washington and Oregon visiting various family and friends. It was such a fun trip!

One of my favorite parts of the trip was hiking to Drift Creek Falls on the Oregon Coast. This hike has everything: dense forests, babbling creeks, a suspension bridge, and a beautiful waterfall. Considering it was just 3 miles round trip, it’s probably the most bang-for-your-buck of any hike I’ve ever done.

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Possibly the only downside is that this hike is kind of backwards. By that, I mean that you mostly drop in elevation hiking in and then you have to trek uphill to get back to your car. All-in-all, this is a must do if you ever find yourself near Oregon’s central coast.

Directions

One of the hardest parts of this hike was finding the turn off. Seriously, some of the directions we found online almost lead us astray. So read on to find out how to get there.

  • Turn east onto Drift Creek Road about 1/4 mile south of the Lincoln City city limit.
  • Follow Drift Creek Road for just over a mile before turning left on Forest Road 17.
    • This is really the only hard part about finding the trailhead.
    • Forest Road 17 is just past Anderson Creek Road. Keep right and do not turn onto Anderson Creek Road. You will see Forest Road 17 on your left in about 1/4 mile.
  • Continue on Forest Road 17 for approximately 10 miles until you reach the trailhead.
    • Just follow the signs for Drift Creek Falls
    • Forest Road 17 is paved but single lane, so drive with caution
  • After 10 miles, you’ll see the trailhead parking lot on the right side of the road. There’s a $5 parking fee, but that’s a small price to pay for such a beautiful and well-kept trail.

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If you’re not coming from Lincoln City, you’re on your own because I’ve never driven that way. But here’s a link to the location on Google Maps.

The Hike

The actual hike is not very difficult at all. The path follows a fairly consistent gentle downgrade for about the first mile and then it flattens out as you cross Drift Creek for the first time.

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After the initial crossing of Drift Creek, there’s a fairly easy quarter-mile walk to the suspension bridge. As you cross the bridge, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Drift Creek Falls from above. The trickiest part about this hike is waiting at the suspension bridge so that you can get that perfect Instagram picture without any strangers ruining your shot (see the picture below for how it’s done).

On the other side of the bridge, you descend down to the shore of Drift Creek where you will see another beautiful perspective of the falls. Seriously people, this hike is Instagram gold. If you packed a lunch, there are some nice logs where you can relax and enjoy two of the best thing on God’s green earth: sandwiches and waterfalls.

Hiking back to your car is slightly more difficult than come in (thanks gravity), but really this whole hike is pretty tame. We saw all kinds of people enjoying this hike from 5 year-olds to 75 year-olds and everything in between. We even saw a chihuahua who didn’t break a sweat enough to remove his Christmas sweater, but he was just showing off.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy hiking to Drift Creek Falls, and more importantly I hope you get the suspension bridge Instagram pic of your dreams.

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