Trail Review: Abiqua Falls in Oregon
The rugged beauty surrounding Abiqua Falls is my all time favorite. The wet, fern filled, evergreen forest of the Pacific Northwest is my happy place.
Abiqua Falls is a hidden gem surrounded by the Santiam State Forest. Although open to the public, the falls are on private property owned by the Mount Angel Abbey.
I will admit the listed .7 mile distance to the falls had me underestimating this hike. It was a bit more of an adventure than I was expecting. For example I was anticipating a 2 mile outing – we walked about 5.
Location: near Scotts Mills, about 1 hour from Salem
Trail Type: Out & Back
Elevation: 1181 – 1400 ft
Difficulty: Moderate, due to steep & slippery sections
Date: April 3, 2022
Distance: 5ish miles
Start: Near the blue circle on the map below along CF 300
End: Near the blue circle on the map below along CF 300
Hiking Time: 3ish hours*
*A quick note on our hiking style – We stop and smell the roses. When I go for a run, speed is a consideration. While hiking, it is not. We take photos, watch the chipmunk in the tree, find geocaches, and simply enjoy the adventure. So, typically a hike can be completed in a shorter time than we log.
I have read that some people struggled using online maps to reach the trailhead. Thankfully, we didn’t have any trouble using Google Maps. It took us right to the trailhead.
From Crooked Finger Road, you will take a right onto CF 300. It’s not marked, but there is an informational sign at the intersection. Stay on CF 300 and follow it all the way to the trailhead. This forest road is not well maintained, so be aware that you might decide to pull your vehicle over and walk the remaining mile or two to the trailhead.
I had full intentions of driving all the way to the trailhead. I live on an old logging road that is not maintained. I’m used to driving on rough roads. However, I reached a section that I decided wasn’t worth risking and I thought the road might get even worse. So, I turned around and parked on the side of the road just before the troublesome spot. That being said, I probably could have done it. It didn’t get worse and I noticed a couple vehicles maneuver the area problem free.
When you feel you can’t/shouldn’t drive any further, pull over in a wide spot in the road and walk. It’s a lovely road for a walk.
There is no signage anywhere saying you are at the trailhead or pointing towards the falls. So, follow your maps and keep your eyes out for a couple things:
1 – There is a gate blocking the road just passed the trailhead.
2 – Look for the white sign on a tree. That’s the trailhead. Once on the trailhead, head towards the left, not towards the gate.
The trail down to the creek is relatively short. It’s dirt and narrow and beautiful.
You will soon reach the first rope section. It wasn’t too slippery when we hiked it, but I was grateful for the rope.
After the first steep spot, you will get a short breather and continue following the path at a slight decline.
When you reach the steepest section, watch your footing, hold the ropes, and guide yourself down towards the creek.
Once you reach Abiqua Creek you will head to the left, following it upstream. The path is rocky and can be slick in spots. Be prepared to step over debris.
This is one of those photos that just didn’t capture the magic of this spot along the creek. It was green and gorgeous, and I’m sure could be in a scene from a hobbit movie.
Continue on and you will eventually reach the falls. It is the most enchanting scene. The waterfall crashing into the pool below. The basalt columns covered in moss, ferns, and lichen. It’s just dreamy.
Take some time on the the gravel beach to admire your surroundings.
So much life growing on the rocks. ♥
This is an out and back trail, so when you’re ready head back towards your car the same way you came from.
We hiked this trail in the beginning of April and there were spring wildflowers in bloom including trillium and red-flowering currant. Silver Falls State Park is nearby and has similar wildflowers. If you are wondering what flower you saw on your hike, you might find it on this graphic from Silver Falls.
The hike wasn’t quite as expected, but it was a beautiful day for an outing. The falls and basalt columns were spectacular. I would love to come back and see the falls just after a dusting of snow has fallen.
The basalt rock, including the columns, surrounding Abiqua Falls are part of the Columbia River Basalt Group. Years ago, lava flows oozed over this area. When the thick layer of lava cooled and contracted it formed hexagonal cracks down the lava forming the columns.
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