Gooch Falls is one of at least four major waterfalls along Marion Creek, and is both the easiest to reach - in a relative sense at least - and one of the most impressive waterfalls in the upper North Santiam River drainage. Marion Creek slopes over a pretty dome-shaped cascade, then broadens and crashes 80 feet over a 100 foot wide wall in a fury of spray. The falls are viewed from an airy natural â¬Ëdeck' perched on top of the rim of the canyon, with the creek 150 feet straight below. Unfortunately, the final approach to the viewpoint of the falls is dangerous and shouldn't be attempted by anyone unsure of their agility (parents keep a very close eye on your kids here). This is a site that would benefit greatly from some attention from the Forest Service (maybe a Scout group could construct a set of stairs leading to the viewpoint).
- Gooch Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
The name of this waterfall has long been a confusing issue. The falls were discovered by John Minto in 1874 and originally named Gatch Falls, after Thomas M. Gatch, a pioneer educator well known in the area. In the early 1880's, however, a man named Nathan Gooch took a squatters claim to the land adjacent to the falls, and his name was soon thereafter commonly associated with the falls. The similarities of the names eventually prompted the USBGN to make an official decision, and in 1970, Gooch was made the official name. The name of Gatch was then applied to another waterfall upstream.
While the falls are on National Forest land, the trail leading to the viewpoint along the canyon rim crosses a private inholding. As of 2007, the road leading to this trail has been gated and posted, so accessing the upper view of the falls is likely no longer possible. It is possible to reach the base of Gooch Falls by following Marion Creek upstream from Lower Gooch Falls, but whether there is an established route or not, I do not know. Until a route can be verified, this one will have to be left alone. Go see Marion and Gatch Falls instead.