News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Shellburg Falls could reopen by mid-May 

Shellburg Falls, the popular recreation area in the Santiam State Forest, should be ready to open by the middle of May.

John Mandich, recreational manager specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, told The Canyon Weekly that the department is hoping to have the site open by Friday, May 17, the summer season opening day for many state recreation areas. If not May 17, Mandich said, then the Memorial Day weekend would be the next likely target.

Shellburg Falls, and about a third of the Santiam State Forest property that surrounds it, was badly damaged by the 2020 wildfires. Mandich has mainly used volunteer crews, including Trailkeepers of Oregon, to work on the restoration effort, which required hazard tree removals and bridge reconstruction.

It will be a slightly different experience, Mandich said. Gone – at least for now – will be the trail that runs underneath the falls, similar to those at South Falls and North Falls at nearby Silver Falls State Park. Too many hazards remain in that unstable area, Mandich said.

The schedule challenges faced by crews have included the variability of the weather.

The old-style campground, which was heavily damaged by the fires, is closed indefinitely. The campground area will be used as a parking lot for day-use hikers and a staging area for mountain bikers. Access to the lot will require a roundabout trip up Wagner and Ayers Creek roads from Highway 22 now that the Fern Ridge trailhead has been permanently closed.

All of the trails in the Shellburg Falls Recreation Area, including August Mountain and Vine Maple will be open, and Mandich said the trail work will mean improved connectivity between Shellburg Falls and Silver Falls via the Lost Creek and Catamount trails.

Informational kiosks noting the impact of the fires on the landscape will be placed on the Shellburg Falls and August Mountain trails.

ODF recreational properties such as the nearby Santiam Horse Camp generally run on a May to September season because of their campgrounds. Mandich said “it’s not clear if there will be seasonal closures at Shellburg because there is no campground.”

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