Cedar Falls is a good trail for a hot day, of which there are plenty in this region. It is short (with options for extension), and leads to a refreshing, surprisingly impressive waterfall, the top of which is accessible for a pool-side break.
The trail gains 180m steadily over 3km. At no point is the grade intense, but the climb is a steady. Immediately from the parking area the wide, obvious route climbs through sparse forest and hits a handful of switchbacks. The trail then follows high above
Cedar Creek, on a steep but safe hillside. The trail is mostly shaded by thin pines, but is occasionally exposed. You'll hear that you're getting closer and closer to the water, slowly, and in under an hour from the lot you will stand at the spur that leads to falls' edge.
At the spur there is a further fork. A steep scramble down and to the left will allow you to reach the base of the plummet,
but I was too nervous to let my dogs fly down it, as the river continues with strong current beyond the drop. The right fork takes you to the top of the falls which, surprisingly, has a calm pool due to some fortuitously placed deadfall. There is also a tiered cascade which is lovely to stare at while you cool your heels.
Hikers can continue a further 13km to North Lake, but I didn't, so I couldn't tell you much about it.
Heading west from Winthrop along Hwy 20, pass village of Mazama, and about 10km later, just after crossing bridged Cedar Creek, turn left onto Road 200. It is signed "Cedar Falls".
There is self-pay station; a $5 day use fee applies.
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