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 is a new stay 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.
We probably all associate the area with the famed Trail of Ten Falls – which is probably the best place to start. You know, the whole amazingness that is running through canyons and behind waterfalls. However, there are other great spots 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.
You can find a trail map, with mileage, for running and hiking planning here.
While the Smith Creek Village has been around just over a year, that spot has been home to lodging for a long time. It is a special place too many people in the mid-Willamette Valley, and it was a bummer to see the historic buildings close during the pandemic. After a period of uncertainty, the Oregon Parks & Rec Department awarded a contract in May 2021 to a new local company – Silver Falls Hospitality – to oversee operations. And the new and improved journey began.
While the nearest city is the super cool Silverton, it’s not exactly a short distance from the village. We recommend stopping there on your way in or out, or making a day trip, if I need to check out any number of cool restaurants on the river and breweries in town.
Smith Creek Village sits just about a half hour east of Salem and maybe 90 minutes from Portland. Any trail runner can tell you about how special a place Silver Falls State Park is. If you have never experienced it, having a little staycation in a cabin, which were originally built in the 1930’s, is the absolutely perfect way to spend a day or weekend (or week!).
We stayed in a tiny cabin (Tiny Cabin A) for a night in mid-February. You really never know what you’re going to get even a 25 miles away from the Valley floor – and we were greeted with a light dusting of snow in some areas. While we have ran here in the winter months before, we usually have to warm up and cool down in our car. Having a spot to hang out in for warmth and off-the-grid necessities – was amazing.
There are a variety of cabin/bed options and ours came equipped with 3 twin beds, a sink, coffee maker, and toilet. The shower and extra bathrooms were close by near a simple trail.
The grouping of cabins is dog-friendly, and also super quiet and chill. All of the tiny cabins are pretty far from the main lodge – though there is a small road and parking once you get closer. Tiny Cabin A is the nearest to the parking lot, but some of the others may need additional gear (i.e. headlamps if arriving at night and possibly appropriate footwear).
I brought my youngest daughter and she was geeked out with where would be spending the evening. It’s a cozy space, yet with enough room to not be too much on top of each other. There is a sink, plenty of towels, a coffee machine, and locally made toiletries.
Near the lodge, which was covered with light snow, there would be a ton of space to play yard games, toss the frisbee around, or just be in nature.
Peeking out the windows were tall trees and misty, moody vibes. We 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. They had thoughtfully left the lights and heater on for my arrival.
While the Smith Creek Village is pretty isolated, the Big Leaf Coffeehouse is on site for all of your food and sustenance needs. It’s open for breakfast from 8a to 12p, lunch from 12p to 5p and dinner from 5p to 8p. Expect some pretty standard and solid food options, ranging from pastries and trail-ready items for breakfast, salads and sandwiches for lunch, and American cuisine for dinner. All were very reasonably priced.
There is lots of indoor and outdoor seating and to-go option to take with you on your hiking and runs.
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 is a trail runner’s dream – with options for the crazy people and those who just want a short leisurely walk out in nature. Whether you area heading out for double digit miles, or just for a few, the surrounding areas is always beautiful. Now that the Smith Creek Village is in full swing, it provides an easy basecamp to have the whole park and trails to yourself without having to worry about driving anywhere afterwards.
Be sure to check them out on Instagram for inspiring photos of their property and the park!
Smith Creek Village
20022 Silver Falls Hwy. SE Sublimity, OR 97385
More about Smith Creek Village:
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.