Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience! The most recent location for our runcation series was at Smith Creek Village .
First the Running:
We all know and love Silver Falls State Park – the beloved mid-autumn namesake trail race, the early year muck-fest that is Buck Mountain Mudslinger, as well as being a glorious spring and summer training grounds. These routes have everything from waterfalls, technical running, smooth and dreamy singletrack, climbing and descending, river and forest views, and it’s all in such an easy location from Portland to Eugene. Bring your dog, bring your bike, bring your kids…you can even bring your horse! Or just bring yourself and escape for a few hours, or days. That’s where Smith Creek Village comes in, which I talk more about below.
The most popular trail is the nationally recognized loop, The Trail of Ten Falls. It’s the bread and butter of the park and there’s no denying it’s beauty. The trails takes runners and hikers past, and even behind, impressive and stunning waterfalls while weaving through a rocky canyon.
To get in more miles (countless, really), this main loop trail connects to the east side of the park to make other incredible routes, such as the Perimeter Trail, Buck Mountain Loop, Rockett Ridge Trail, and Catamount Trail. For a truly epic day, you can connect to the trails leading to Shellburg Falls once the trail work is completed to reopen after suffering from fire damage.
Right from Smith Creek Village are numerous access points for trails or smaller loops to stick around your “basecamp”. The main parking lot for the South Falls trailhead is just a 5 minute drive by car but is also accessible by bike.
You can find a trail map, with mileage, for running and hiking planning here.
Smith Creek Village (fka Silver Falls Lodge and Conference Center), is a wonderful spot for everything from a staycation to a wedding. You can choose from a tiny cabin at the edge of the property for a more rustic and unplugged stay or multi-room lodges for families or larger groups. You can find a list of seasonal pricing here, but the smallest cabins start at $89/night.
I stayed in a tiny cabin for the weekend in early December and even though we’re still in the Pacific Northwest, it’s chilly in the canyon. Having a little spot to retreat to for warmth and relaxation was even better than I expected. The cabin had comfortable beds, a sink, coffee maker, and toilet. The shower (and extra bathroom) was just 50 steps out the door and down the trail.
The little village of cabins is dog-friendly, but was incredibly quiet. Peeking out the windows were tall trees and misty, moody vibes. I arrived in the dark on a Friday night, not long after office hours had ended, but my keys and instructions were lovingly left and self check-in was incredibly simple. I’d recommend a headlamp for navigating the short trail from the parking lot to the cabin, but they had thoughtfully left the lights and heater on for my arrival.
I walked down to the main area of the property for breakfast; it was a 6-7 minute walk (likely faster if I didn’t stop to take photos!). The property was quiet, which I attributed to it being the winter, but with so much open space for kids to run, or yard games to be had, it was serene to have the feeling of camping with more comfortable amenities. It was also easy to picture guests dressed up for a wedding and a happy couple under the altar. What a beautiful venue it would be.
The Big Leaf Coffeehouse in the center of the property is currently open for breakfast and lunch and has plentiful indoor and outdoor seating. Featuring a full coffee menu, boxed or to-go options for food (if you don’t want to pack your own for the trails!), and full breakfast options as well at such reasonable prices. With WiFi in the dining hall, I enjoyed a very quiet breakfast watching the lotteries for both Western States and Hardrock 100s. It was a lovely morning indeed.
Just 25 minutes southwest is the town of Stayton for more food options, or 25 minutes northwest is Silverton. Another 10 minutes past Silverton is Mt. Angel, the quaint Bavarian town. Smith Creek Village is a perfect basecamp to stay in the park for a few days or to explore the incredible trails and countryside just east of Salem.
Silver Falls State Park has always been one of my favorite trail systems. It provides as many or as few miles as any training run calls for and delivers on scenery no matter the distance. To have all of that access out the front door of a cozy cabin or beautiful lodge is a staycationer’s dream. Whether it’s summer adventures or a winter escape, Smith Creek Village is worth booking now. And to have them be dog-friendly is the cherry on top.
Be sure to check them out on Instagram for inspiring photos of their property and the park!
Smith Creek Village details:
Phone: (503) 894-7533
More about Smith Creek Village:
Immersing yourself into the outdoors, if only for a drizzly afternoon stroll, is not simply refreshing—for Oregonians, it’s practically fundamental to experiencing a flourishing life in the Pacific Northwest.
Setting out on the trail or sleeping under the stars can be the restorative breath of fresh air that can completely transform a mindset. That transformation in mindset could have significant impacts on the climate of surrounding environment + the local community, and that’s not something to take lightly.
From the outset, our mission at Silver Falls Hospitality has been to learn firsthand from the very nature of the wilderness, and directly from those who have been stewards of the land before us. As a small business and as a blossoming cohort of creatives and a “boots-on-the-ground” team, we aim to convey the resilience that we have gained & have continuously learned from, and hope to instill those values into the hearts and minds of the sojourners, friends, locals, and families that we are honored to host.
Many thanks to Smith Creek Village for allowing us to check out their property! Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.