On September 14th, my wife and I headed up to McKenzie Pass to check out Proxy Falls and Linton Lake. It was a nice day for September in Oregon – dry and short-sleeve-warm outside. Proxy Falls is on a trail loop that is only 1.25 miles long. We immediately found ourselves hiking over one of the lava flows that are so common in this area:
This lava was old and much of it was fairly overgrown:
Once we crossed the lava bed we found ourselves in the kind of lush forest that we love so much, filled with cedar and hemlock, ferns and moss:
We took the marked spur to reach Proxy Falls. In the future we will take the unmarked and unofficial trail we found later instead – the official trail is steep and sketchy. As we approached the falls we got the following view, which only really shows the left half of this cascade:
Proxy Falls is simply fantastic. It is widely photographed, and seeing it in person there is no question as to why. Proxy Falls is 226 feet high, and flows over moss-covered columnar basalt. In this photo you can really only see the lower half as the upper section is curved out of view:
The unofficial trail winds through the bottom of a moss-filled gully:
After ascending back to the loop trail, we continued a bit farther and then took the second spur to Lower Proxy Falls. It is less photogenic, but still quite impressive:
We then made the quick walk back to the trailhead.
If you decide to visit the Proxy Falls trail (and I highly endorse doing so) I have a couple suggestions:
- Hike the loop in a clockwise direction. This results in seeing Lower Proxy first, and makes for a nicer hike in general.
- Instead of taking the official spur to Proxy Falls, take the unofficial but much nicer trail instead. Not only is it an easier walk, but it’s actually in better shape and takes you through a more beautiful area. I have added a waypoint to my KMZ file (below) showing the correct place, but if you are looking for it you will spot it anyway, especially if you are going clockwise.
Here is my KMZ file with our route on this trail. Please feel free to download the file and view it in Google Earth. Note that I had broken the clip that normally keeps my GPS attached at shoulder level and as a result had placed it with the antenna hanging out of my pants pocket instead. That, coupled with the rough terrain and thick canopy overhead, resulted in a poor satellite fix and a chaotic and inaccurate record of the route. The waypoint for the unofficial trail spur is accurate however.