Vivian Lake from Salt Creek Falls Trail HeadThis hike has multiple waterfalls to enjoy!
Basic Information (from GPS)
- Driving Distance – 1.45 minutes
- Hike Distance – 3.85 miles
- Hike Duration – 1 hour 45 minutes
- Elevation Gain – 2048 feet (guidebook says 1600ft)
Why Vivian Lake
I had tried hiking into Vivian Lake some 17 years ago from the top down, however, we never made it that far due to the attacks of what seemed like trillions of mosquitoes. The farthest we made it was Notch Lake…sad, I know. Last month, I decided I would hike to Vivian Lake after work on a Friday. I began planning the overnight backpacking trip. There were two requirements that had to be met that eliminated a myriad of beautiful choices. The first was based on having a clean car – I really didn’t want to have to drive miles and miles down a gravel forest service road, even though that would lead to an easier hike. The second condition was that the drive distance from door to trailhead needed to be under 2 hours, especially since I was leaving after work. Vivian Lake met the requirements.
I am a pretty active individual and I felt that hiking the 1600 foot elevation gain (as stated in a trail guide) would be no problem. I knew I would make it there pretty close to dark, so I made sure I had the headlamp within easy reach in my pack. I arrived at the trailhead at about 7pm and started hiking. The parking lot was pretty empty, which was interesting because the parking is also for Salt Creek Falls, which is the second highest waterfall in Oregon.
I ended up skipping Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek falls on the way in because I wanted to get to my destination. I hiked about 1.2 miles in the woods and arrived at a set of active train tracks. I stopped to take a few pictures, but looked dumb in them, so I only kept the one of the tracks themselves. Once I crossed the tracks, I pressed on until I came to a road. The trail didn’t cross the road this time. I followed this road to our left using a topo map on my iPhone to find the actual trail. It turned out that immediately on the west side of the tracks, the trail forked in an unnoticeable way. It wasn’t to far off course, however, it made my skills at navigation, from 24 years of being a Surveyor, appear quite weak.
I moved onward and upwards, still in the deep woods, until I came to Fall Creek Falls. I took a quick peek and moved on. It was shortly after this that it was dark enough to put on the headlamp. I hiked for some time and almost looked for anywhere to camp when I came upon the Vivian Lake Trail that leads down to the actual lake. I started walking through an area of bear grass, which seemed really weird at night by headlamp.
I made it to a large camp area, at 9pm, at the beginning of the lake where I set up camp. I tried to take a time-lapse video of me setting up the tent, but it was just to dark for it to be worthwhile to post. Once the tent was setup and the food was hung over a branch way up in a tree, I climbed in and had a little wine and immediately fell asleep. At 11pm I was woken up to a guy and girl talking and shining their headlamps all around. For some reason, they decided to set their tent up close enough that i could throw a rock at them. That was kind of weird.
In the morning, who knows what time, I got up and made a fire with the flint/steel and birch bark from my tenderbox. There was plenty of wood that someone previously had collected near the fire pit. Once I had a really good solid fire going, I boiled water, made an Italian Roast cup of Joe and enjoyed it, next to the fire, as the sun rose, thinking about the hike, life…and the tent that was 20 yards away. I started boiling some more water for the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet meal I was going to have. While I waited, I took a bunch of pictures of the lake and then ate breakfast.
Once I was done eating and taking pictures, I lazily packed up camp and started the journey to the car. On the way back I stopped at Fall Creek Falls a little longer and stopped at a few other spots along the way to take pictures of the creek. I finally came to the place on the trail where I had made that detour. I kept hiking as I should and came out in such a way at the tracks, it was no wonder we missed the trail on the way in.
When I arrived at the side trail to see Diamond Creek Falls, I opted to see Salt Creek Falls and get on the road. When I arrived at Salt Creek Falls, there was quite a few people and cars there. I headed to the car, put away my pack and went back to the falls for some pictures. I had been here before, in the winter when everything was frozen. I hiked to the bottom of the falls then. That was cool. After I got my big waterfall fix, I headed home, driving off into the beautiful Oregon sunset…
Map and GPX File
Max elevation: 5472 ft
Min elevation: 4088 ft
Total climbing: 2047 ft
Total descent: -794 ft
Total Time: 01:45:40