Sweet Creek, Oregon, USA by Chris Malone

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Nestled in the Oregon Coast Mountain Range is one of the sweetest creeks I’ve ever seen, which I’m sure is why the creek is aptly named, “Sweet Creek”. From the trailhead parking lot, the trail is 1.1 miles in length (2.2 round trip) and ends with what is called Sweet Creek Falls. The trail is easy to moderate to navigate and has man made walkways or outcroppings in areas that a trail does not exist.

One very interesting thing about Sweet Creek, is that there are numerous falls (11 in fact) along the trail, some are more interesting and beautiful than the actual falls named after the creek. It seems like every turn on the trail produces another fall, some easier to access than others, which is mostly dependent on time of season and water flow. My favorite times to visit are spring and fall, but winter with its frosty mornings and summer with access to parts of the creek not accessible any other time of the year, Sweet Creek is very sweet all year long.

Driving to the falls can be accomplished by the west or east. From Eugene, Oregon travel west on Hwy 126 to Mapleton, and from Florence, Oregon travel east to Mapleton. Look for the sign to Sweet Creek and follow the road 11.0 miles, always keeping to the right at every fork in the road. The trailhead sign isn’t that easy to see, so be on the lookout for it. The best time of day to visit is early morning, late afternoon, or a bright overcast day. The trailhead parking area has a porta-potty, but no running water, so you’ll want to bring your own to drink. There is also downloadable Geospatial files that can be added to your GPS device.

Photographing the falls is straight forward, and most falls have good access to a setup for a nice shot. I recommend a sturdy tripod, neutral density filter and circular polarizer. I also would have appropriate clothing, coats, hat, etc. for changing weather conditions, and a knee pad as those rocks get hard after a while of kneeling or laying. Shoot long exposure if possible or several shots using an image blending technique in post processing. This shot was taken at 18mm, f/22, for 5 seconds, using ISO 100.

Having grown up on the Oregon Coast I had never heard of Sweet Creek, until a group of local photographers took me there. Sweet Creek and its 11 waterfalls aren’t the biggest, widest, or tallest, but they are some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring waterfalls I have ever seen, which is why Sweet Creek is probably my most favorite spot on this planet.


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