World Waterfall Database

Linton Falls

Lane County, Oregon, United States

Status: Cataloged
This waterfall has been surveyed by members of the World Waterfall Database.

Detailed Info

Linton Creek is the most significant stream which drains off the west side of North and Middle Sisters in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Over a length of about 4-1/2 miles the creek forms from a broad volcanic plateau studded with springs, through numerous meadows and shallow lakes, and finally tumbles in spectacular fashion into Linton Lake near the McKenzie Pass highway before submerging underground to become the bulk of Lost Creek further down the valley. In this process Linton Creek produces perhaps a dozen significant waterfalls, some of which are among the most impressive in Oregon.

Linton Falls is not only the largest and most significant waterfall along Linton Creek, it's also the largest waterfall in the Three Sisters Wilderness and in all likelihood the second tallest waterfall in Oregon after Multnomah Falls. The falls are made up of between 6 and 8 distinct tiers as it tumbles down the side of the valley to Linton Lake below, dropping approximately 600 feet in all. There is no location where the entire falls are visible from one point - even from the opposite side of the valley - so a full understanding of how the upper tiers of the falls interact is not yet available. The intrepid few who have scrambled to the top of the falls have reported looking down over the 150-foot tall uppermost tier of the falls, and from the base we have been able to measure the final three tiers of the falls as dropping 99 feet, 49 feet, and 119 feet respectively. On our most recent visit we attempted to find a viewpoint which would reveal the upper half of the falls, but found the creek was too treacherous to safely cross to do so.

The lowermost tier of the falls appears to be wildly affected by debris which chokes the stream channel at its brink. On our initial survey of the falls in 2005 the creek poured down a notch roughly in the center of the cliff, then spread out across the majority of the cliff as it hits the small ledges further down. Re-visiting in 2017 the creek has shifted entirely to the far left side of the cliff, so the falls are much narrower in appearance presently. We've also seen pictures which show it having spread out across the entire of the cliff to a width of perhaps as much as 75 feet across.

The Linton Creek basin covers an area of at least 10 square miles and extends up onto the slopes of North and Middle Sisters. None of the glaciers on either of the volcanoes appear to drain into Linton Creek, but ample winter snow fall coupled with the extremely porous ground in the upper basin ensures an ample flow of water in Linton Creek all year long. The creek itself emerges from Linton Spring as about a third of the volume seen at Linton Falls, with the remainder joining in from a south fork and multiple other springs which empty into Linton Meadows well upstream from the falls.

In 2017 the Separation Creek fire extended north to and burned some of the forest around Linton Falls. The few pictures we've seen showing an overview of the area suggest that most of the forest was left unscathed and only individual trees burned here and there, while the area around the falls looked to have escaped relatively unharmed. Visitors to the area should still exercise caution as the burnt trees could pose significant hazards if the soil at their roots becomes unstable (there are already a lot of fallen trees in this area as is).

History and Naming

Linton Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.

Linton Falls was named for the creek and / or lake, but it isn't known whom the creek was named for. There are no less than 5 features with the name Linton applied in the area (Falls, Creek, Lake, Meadows and Springs).

Our Thoughts

Regardless of what the actual height of the falls may be, there is little doubt in our minds that Linton Falls is the second best waterfall in Oregon - even without being able to see all of it from one location.

Photo Tips

Linton Falls is very photogenic, even if you can't see more than a third of it with ease. The area around the falls is very heavily forested and the falls face north, so they are well shaded most of the time, but the sun might strike it during the summer. When the creek runs high, this thing will toss up a lot of spray, so bring an umbrella to shield your camera.

Location & Directions

Coordinates:   44.16012, -121.88354
Elevation:   4379 feet
USGS Map:   Linton Lake 7 1/2"

Linton Falls is accessed from the Linton Lake Trailhead, located directly across the road from the Alder Springs campground along the McKenzie Pass Highway (OR 242), which can be found about 1.8 miles east of the Proxy Falls Trailhead, about 8.3 miles east of the junction of Highways 126 and the McKenzie Pass Highway, or 11-1/2 miles west of the McKenzie Pass summit. The trail to Linton Lake leads an easy 1-1/2 miles to the mouth of Obsidian Creek, passing across rough lava fields and through a dark forest along the lake shore. At Obsidian Creek, the official trail ends, but an obvious route continues another 1/3 mile to several campsites at the mouth of Linton Creek (expect to have to climb over numerous logs). From there, the trail becomes less obvious but still relatively easy to follow as it climbs up alongside the gorge of Linton Creek. Stay away from the stream, but keep the water within earshot. The base of Linton Falls is encountered come into view after another 4/10 of a mile of more difficult hiking. In one or two places the path deteriorates and is easy to lose, but for the most part there is a moderately good trail all the way to the bottom of the falls. If you lose the path, just head toward the creek and continue working upstream and it should be encountered again.

View this location in Google Earth
Linton Falls is marked with the large icon in the center of the map. Up to ten additional waterfalls (if any) may be marked as well, with links below.

Other Nearby Waterfalls

Additional Waterfalls which occur within 5 miles of Linton Falls
No additional waterfalls were found within 5 miles.

By The Numbers

The information presented in this table is meant to help identify and clarify the physical aspects of the waterfall for comparative purposes. While we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, sometimes it will prove necessary to either estimate or flat out guess at certain characteristics where either enough information isn't readily available, is not known, or we were not able to confirm a given trait upon surveying. This information may be changed at any given time to ensure accuracy.

Total Height

The Total Height listed for the waterfall represents the difference in elevation from the top of the uppermost drop, to the bottom of the lowermost drop of the waterfall, including all stretches of interstitial stream in between. Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here.

Tallest Drop

The Tallest Drop figure represents the height of the largest single drop within a multi-stepped waterfall. Waterfalls with only one drop will have the total height of the waterfall repeated here.

Num of Drops

The Number of Drops in a waterfall is a tally of the total number of distinct drops which make up the waterfall. Stretches of interstitial stream in between two or more distinct drops of a single waterfall are NOT considered to be distinct drops of the waterfall unless the section of stream in question would otherwise qualify as a waterfall were it to be isolated.

Avg Width

The Average Width of the waterfall represents the breadth of the waterfall from bank to bank under typical flow conditions, or if the waterfall has been Cataloged, under the conditions which it was most thoroughly surveyed. Often this number will be approximated because of a lack of approachability to many waterfalls. We often utilize Google Earth to measure the width (where imagery is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow it.

Maximum Width

Maximum Width represents a hypothetical measurement of roughly how wide a waterfall could get during peak streamflow or flood conditions. For smaller waterfalls, this figure will generally not differ much from the Average Width measurement, but for broader waterfalls - especially those that feature a crest that isn't constricted - this figure can at times be consideraby larger. Like the Average Width measurement, this measurement will take into account the difference in width at the top and bottom of the waterfall as much as possible, but will often be made based on the width of the crest of th falls alone.


The Pitch of a waterfall is an estimated - often very roughly - measure of the average slope or steepness of a waterfall. The Pitch figure only takes into account sections of stream which are actively falling. Pools or stretches of level stream in between two or more successive drops of the falls will not factor in this figure. As an example, a waterfall which features two truly free-falling leaps separated by several dozen yards of flat stream will have a Pitch of 90 degrees. Similarly, a waterfall with two drops separated by a pool, one with a true free-falling drop, and one with a Horsetail type fall will average the two, so while the Plunging drop has a Pitch of 90 degrees, if the Horsetail drop has a Pitch of 45 degrees, the total Pitch will be roughly 67 degrees.


The Run of a waterfall is a measurement representing the total linear distance on the ground between the top and bottom of a waterfall. This figure is not often easy to establish with a high degree of precision and as such will often be estimated. Waterfalls with a longer Run will usually either be less steep, often cascading type waterfalls, or will feature multiple steps separated by shorter stretches of a more gradual gradient streambed.


The system of classification of waterfall forms we use is a heavily modified derivative of the classifications outlined by Greg Plumb in his "Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" books. While plumb uses eight distnct forms, we wanted further granularity and opted to break down the hierarchy twofold: first based on the overall pitch of the waterfall, and then based on what shape the fall takes as it makes its descent. There are five primary Categories of falls in this system: Plunge, Horsetail, Steep Cascades, Shallow Cascades, and Rapids. Additional deliniation is then applied depending on characteristics such as the breadth of the falls, whether it splits into two or more channels, whether it falls in multiple successive drops, etc. For more information on our waterfall form classifications, see the Help page.


The watershed which a waterfall occurs within, if it is specified, will be based on the ultimate distributary watercourse to the ocean. For example, Washington's Palouse Falls occurs along the Palouse River - which is a tributary to the Snake River, which is itself a tributary to the Columbia River, which ultimately enters the Pacific Ocean, so Palouse Falls would then fall within the Columbia River watershed. Streams which empty directly into the ocean, or into a minor basin which then empties to the ocean will often have this field left blank.


The name of the watercourse which the waterfall occurs along. If the watercourse is not known to have an officially or colloquially recognized name, this field is left blank.

Avg Volume

The volume of water present in the stream at the location of the waterfall. This is often the most difficult figure to pin down because accurately measuring streamflow is not a simple process. We will rely on USGS data as much as possible, and attempt to take into account seasonal fluctuations in stream levels if possible. There is no guarantee that this figure will be accurate, and in cases where there is no USGS data to use, it may be a very, very rough estimate at best.


If known, the primary source of the watercourse which produces the waterfall will be listed here. This is helpful in determining whether a waterfall may flow more consistently during certain periods of the year - streams which originate in Springs, Lakes, or Glaciers will often flow more consistently throughout the year than those fueled by simply Runoff. The source of the stream may also be either unknown or undetermined.

Flow Consistency

A rough estimation of how many months out of the year the stream which produces the waterfall will actually hold water. The vast majority of waterfalls featured on this website will technically be truly perennial waterfalls (those that flow all year long), but some may see their flow dwindle greatly in the late summer months. This figure will not take into account the winter months when the waterfall may freeze, because in such cases the waterfall will very often be inaccessible. Entries which specify a Flow Consistncy of 12 Months should in general have an acceptable flow at any time of year (but may be better during certain periods - see below).

Best Flow

A general estimate of the best period of the year during which time the falls will be considered at optimal conditions, or flowing at their best. There may be variance within the range specified where the flow will be better or worse, but visiting at any time in the range specified (if available) will generally present the waterfall in its best light.



Cataloged Icon
Waterfalls which are Cataloged we have visited and surveyed in person. Statistical information should be quite accurate (for the most part), and exact measurements will often be available (information is not guaranteed to always be up to date). Detailed information, directions, and photographs will almost always be available.
Confirmed Icon
Confirmed Waterfalls are known to exist, should be relatively accurately mapped and geotagged, and the statistical information available will often be dependable. If height information is presented, it may be estimated but should be accurate. Directions will not likely be available.
Unconfirmed Icon
Unconfirmed Waterfalls are often marked on a published map, but we have yet to confirm the exact location and / or whether or not its stature is significant enough to qualify for listing in the database. Statistical information may be estimated and may be inaccurate. No directions.
Unknown Icon
Waterfalls marked as Unknown are either suspected to exist based on heresay or a hunch, or we have received unverified information suggesting a waterfall may exist near the location provided but cannot corroborate it in any way. Geodata may not be accurate, the location may not be known at all, and statistical information will be estimated and highly inaccurate.
Inundated Icon
Inundated Waterfalls have been submerged beneath lakes or reservoirs, usually a result of impoundment of a river behind a dam, and most often no longer functionally exist (there may be rare exceptions). We maintain records for these features out of historical importance.
Subterranean Icon
Though not common, some waterfalls can be found entirely underground within cave systems. Access to subterranean waterfalls can vary from easy via developed walkways to requiring a high level of extremely technical spelunking skill, including familiarity with ropework and a distinct lack of claustrophobia.
Disqualified Icon
Waterfalls which have been marked as Disqualified do not have the necessary stature or features to qualify as a legitimate waterfall according to our criteria. We will maintain records for entries with this status where the feature is well known and / or may have been historically referred to as a waterfall at some point in time.
Posted Icon
Posted Waterfalls are known to exist, and we may have a large amount of information associated with them, but are located on private property and are not legally accessible to the general public. Accessing waterfalls with this status should not be attempted without first being explicitly granted permission of the property owner.

These ads help to pay our bills. Please consider whitelisting this domain in your adblocker to help keep this site running.