Ranger’s Pick–Cascadia State Park (2010)
The idea of a park being a healthy place to relax and renew isn’t a new concept. Cascadia had that reputation as far back as the late 1890s. When George Geisendorfer opened a hotel and resort in 1896, he capitalized on the “curative powers” of the mineral spring water along Soda Creek. Visitors trekked to the remote spot to drink from the bubbling spring. At the height of the resort’s popularity in the early 1900s, an average of 1,000 people a week stayed at the hotel and in the camping area. Not bad, considering how rare it was to even see an automobile back then.
Cascadia State Park isn’t nearly as busy today and we don’t recommend drinking the mineral water, but it’s still a great place to explore and camp. The main campground has 25 first-come, first served tent sites tucked into the trees and rhododendrons. Two reservable group tent areas are near the South Santiam River. If you only have time for a short visit, there are plenty of picnic tables in two day-use areas. Drinking water is available in all areas, as well as flush toilets.
Look for a small trailhead sign and a bench as you drive into the main day-use parking area. This is the take-off point for a 3/4-mile trail that leads to the 150-foot Soda Creek waterfall. The dirt trail is moderately steep. Look for several varieties of ferns, wildflowers and big Douglas-fir, cedar and maple trees.
The waterfall is spectacular and the plants especially lush right now.