A bulbous channeled rock protruding into Alex Creek's streambed forms an ethereal waterfall that lives up to its name very well. The creek glides over a smooth step before veiling 40 feet down irregularly shaped grooves in the smooth, moss covered cliff face. Like many other streams in the area, Alex Creek relies mostly on snowmelt and the groundwater table for sustenance, so the falls range from a lacy cascade in the summer to a wall of water wider than it is tall in the winter. Like its upstream sibling Moon Falls, Spirit has big issues with shading on clear days. Sunlight filtering through the trees can cause nasty contrast issues for photographers, so plan your visit with the weather in mind if you want good pictures. Alex Creek is a tributary of Layng Creek, the municipal water supply for the city of Cottage Grove. Please respect and protect the water supply by adhering to the no camping and swimming regulations within the Layng Creek watershed.
- Spirit Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
- Known Alternate Names: Andrea Falls
The falls were discovered in 1978 by part-time USFS employee Kevin Riel who was cataloging land slumps in the Layng Creek watershed. He originally named the falls Andrea Falls, after his wife. A Boy Scout troop constructed the trail to the falls in the early 1980's and upon completion, they asked the Oregon Board of Geographic Names to name the falls for the spirit of Scouting. Personally, I find the name to be a better descriptive of the waterfall than an homage to the Boy Scouts.
Exit Interstate 5 at Cottage Grove (Exit 174) and drive east on Row River Road for approximately 19 1/2 miles to the junction of Brice Creek Road # 22 and Layng Creek Road # 17, and turn left onto Layng Creek Road. Follow Road # 17 for 9 miles to a junction and bear right with the main road. In less than 500 feet, you'll find the Spirit Falls trailhead on the right. Park and follow the trail downstream for 1/3 of a mile to the bottom of the falls.