Settled in a forested corridor 14 miles east of Sweet Home along the South Santiam River, Cascadia State park was originally a resort named for the spring it was located on. Soda Creek brought visitors to the remote spot to drink from the naturally bubbling spring believed to have curative powers.
At the height of the resort’s popularity in the early 1900s, an average of 1,000 people a week stayed at the ‘Geisendorfer’ Hotel and in the camping area. At that time the resort boasted tennis courts, a croquet course, lavish garden and a bowling alley. Although the pump is no longer there, you can still rest on the resort’s old stone patio and, if you look closely you can see the pipe with the orange mineral-laced spring water still flowing toward the river.
With the loss of the hotel due to fire, the property was acquired by the state of Oregon in 1940 and continued to be a popular site for camping. Oregon State Parks maintain the facility with the option of overnight camping from May 1 through September 30 annually. The main campground has 25 first-come, first served tent sites tucked into the trees and rhododendrons and two group tent areas near the South Santiam River. For the day-trippers, this is a tranquil place to escape for a picnic in the many available picnic sites; fishing and water play are also popular among the sparkling pools. Available for larger gatherings, two day-use group picnic areas with covered kitchen shelters and electricity are available to reserve. Drinking water is available in all areas, as well as flush toilets.
For the avid hiker, there are two popular trails to choose from:
- The River Trail can be accessed at the group tent camping area; this 3/4-mile loop ushers hikers through ancient Douglas-fir trees, several varieties of ferns, wildflowers cedar and maple trees along the South Santiam River.
- The one-mile Soda Creek Falls Trail leads hikers on a lushly shaded pathway, up a moderately steep incline to the Lower Soda Creek waterfall which drops a spectacular 150 feet tall, as it twists down through the mossy rocks. This is a great place to beat the heat by wading in the shallow pools or go for a swim.