Sweet Creek Falls Trail, Oregon: Waterfall hikes with kids

Some waterfalls hikes are all about going to one big ole finale waterfall. But Oregon’s Sweet Creek Falls Trail builds in waterfalls throughout the entire hike. Officially there are 11 falls, but don’t be surprised if you count 25 or 30… or lose count altogether.

Just inland from Florence on the Oregon Coast, Sweet Creek Falls Trail is one of the state’s best waterfall hikes with kids. It’s a family favorite of ours, too. Ever since Jodie and Anthony started dating, hikes at Sweet Creek Falls have been part of our lives as a couple and as parents of two children.

About Sweet Creek Falls

Why is Sweet Creek Falls such a great hike for kids? It combines things we parents look for in fun yet kid friendly partial day outdoor excursions:

Not too long, not too short.

The full hike is about 2.2 miles round trip, but can be made shorter or longer.

You can be there in about an hour.

From Eugene, the drive to the trailhead is about an hour and 15 minutes, or about 35 minutes from Florence. That’s enough time to feel like we’re getting away, but still short enough for a partial day’s adventure.

Ample parking and no crazy roads.

Paved road access and paved parking lots aren’t far from the main road, Highway 126. The final drive winds through misty, forested hills. It can feel like you’re going back in time. Given that some of the trail itself is built on the path of old settler wagon roads, that’s pretty apt.

Toilets at the parking lot.

The Homestead Trailhead is the largest parking area, and it also has toilets.

Good trail with lots of rocks and trees along the way.

Overall the dirt trail is wide, with good setbacks from the creek, and level hiking plus a few ups and downs. The kids can explore, climb, and romp amidst lots of trees and rocks.

So. Many. Waterfalls.

Like we said, the official count is 11. However, the beauty of Sweet Creek is that in addition to the flowing creek, there are small waterfalls, winding falls, and multiple cascades throughout the entire hike, including the finale waterfall where you turn around.

Cliff-hugging catwalk.

One of the trail’s claims to fame is a catwalk that hugs the side of a small cliff. There are guard rails along the side for safety. Whenever we go on the catwalk, the approach comes with a little rush of exhilaration.

Why Sweet Creek is a great hike for kids

Family travel video: Birthday letter to Aster + Sweet Creek Falls: family friendly kid-friendly waterfall hike near the Oregon Coast

We love the Sweet Creek Falls Trail for its year-round access, ever-changing waterfalls, and the lush beauty of the area. Plus, the various bridges and catwalks spice up the trail with so many different vantage points on the water.

While walking, you can also keep an eye out for different damp-loving wildlife, such as banana slugs and salamanders. You never know what you’re going to find! Speaking of damp, even in summer this can be a cooler, moister area. That can make Sweet Creek a welcome respite on hot days, but you may also want to bring some layers in case it’s chilly.

Sweet Creek is such a favorite hike for our family, Aster even wanted to go for a hike there on her birthday: 

When to go to Sweet Creek Falls

Sweet Creek Falls Trail is open year-round. It can be rainy at some times of year, but snow isn’t common. Before you head out, check TripCheck for potential issues.

Spring will have maximum water coming over the falls. You can also keep an eye out for wildflowers!During the summer, the area has had wildfire impact in the past, but often Sweet Creek can be a wonderful hot-day getaway. Fall colors will have excellent display here. And while there is occasionally snow in the Coast Range, odds are you can come in winter for a hike that’s chilly but still quite doable—a great way to get outside even during the colder months.

Sweet Creek Falls Accessibility

As much as we love Sweet Creek Falls, it’s a mixed bag when it comes to accessibility. Other than a short segment at the trailhead that goes to the first waterfall, this is not a wheelchair-accessible trail. If you have a mobility condition or disability, keep in mind that the terrain can have slope, it can be slippery, and it’s often uneven.

Since Jodie wears a prosthetic leg, she navigates the trail with two hiking poles.

Directions to Sweet Creek Falls, Oregon

From Eugene or Florence, you’ll take Highway 126 until the Mapleton area, where you’ll turn onto Sweet Creek Road. You’ll follow that for about 11 miles before you start reaching trailheads and parking lots:

The Sweet Creek Falls Trail is one of Oregon’s best waterfall hikes for families and kids

Whether you live in Western Oregon or are taking a family vacation in the area, Sweet Creek Falls is one of the best waterfall hikes for kids in the entire state. You can easily get to Sweet Creek from Eugene and from the Coast. There are waterfalls throughout the entire kid friendly hike, and the trail is open year-round. When it comes to a great hike with kids, Sweet Creek is one of our family’s favorites, and don’t be surprised if it becomes one of yours too.

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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