Craggy basalt cliffs. Turquoise water cascading dramatically into a pool below. Towering evergreen trees. Abiqua Falls, hidden deep in a forest of western Oregon, offers the quintessential Pacific Northwest scenery- all moody vibes and rugged beauty. Finding this breathtaking waterfall, however, isn’t exactly straightforward- but I promise the effort to reach its base is well worth it!
So if you’re up for an adventure to see Oregon’s most stunning waterfall, here’s everything you need to know about exploring Abiqua Falls.
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Pssst… headed to western Oregon? You may be interested in checking out our post on the nearby Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park. We also have a ton of other content about Oregon (what can I say? It’s a REALLY cool place!), which you can check out here.
Abiqua Falls is truly one of the most unique waterfalls I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a LOT of waterfalls in my day)! What truly makes this 92-foot waterfall so stunning is that its water cascades over an incredible basalt column amphitheater.
While most volcanic rock on this planet is basalt, only a small percentage of it forms into the telltale hexagonal columns, which is only formed when molten lava cools very suddenly. And Abiqua’s columns are so strikingly pronounced and geometric- it seriously looks like something you’d see in Iceland- or even Game of Thrones!
About the Abiqua Falls Trail
Length: 0.8 miles- or up to about 5 miles, depending upon where you park along the trailhead’s very potholed road (more on that below!)
Elevation gain: 249 feet
How to get to the Abiqua Falls trailhead
Abiqua Falls is tucked in a lush forest, thick with moss-covered trees, close to Silver Falls State Park in Sublimity, Oregon. And even though it’s part of the same geological formation as the beloved waterfalls of Silver Falls, Abiqua is not part of the state park. In fact, the waterfall is located on private property, whose owner, the Mt. Angel Abbey (a Benedectine monastery), has generously made it open to the public.
As such, the area is not well-signed and, frankly, a bit confusing. In fact, my husband, Justin, and I have attempted to hike this trail twice- the first time, the GPS coordinates for the trailhead seemed to lead us to the middle of nowhere (actually about two miles from the trailhead) and without any clear signage, cell signal, or any idea of what to do, we just gave up and drove away.
The trailhead is located here– regardless of where you’re coming from, you’ll reach the trail by driving through the teeny town of Scotts Mills, along Crooked Finger Road NE. Eventually, the paved road will turn into dirt and you’ll reach a clearing where most of the trees have been logged.
This road has several potholes, but if you drive slowly and carefully, any passenger vehicle should be able to make it. Along this road, take the first right you can- you’ll see a sign to the left of this junction, with a red “Safety Zone” placard in the lower right hand side.
Shortly afterward, this road will fork (for what it’s worth, this is where my GPS ended the first time we visited)- you should take a right again and will see a gravel parking lot on the right (located here). If you don’t have a high clearance, 4WD vehicle, you should definitely park in this lot– because the road ahead is about to get BUMPY!
If you do have a high clearance, 4WD vehicle, you may feel comfortable continuing down the gravel road, which snakes deeper and deeper into the dense forest for the next 2 miles. The road will eventually narrow and- hold on to your butts- there will be some MASSIVE potholes and huge, pointy rocks you’ll need to navigate around.
There are a few pull-offs along the way if you’re not comfortable driving the full distance to the trailhead (that’s what Justin and I did)- otherwise, if you have a beast monster car, you can drive all the way until the road ends and find a parking spot.
Your hike to Abiqua Falls may be quite a bit longer than the usual 0.8 mile round-trip hike, depending on where you leave your car– if you have to park in the initial lot, you can expect the total hike to be closer to about 5 miles, with an additional 1100 feet in elevation gain from walking along the road (it’s steep, y’all!).
What to expect along the Abiqua Falls trail
Whether you’ve walked down the road to the trailhead or simply parked by it, you’ll see a path to the left of the road (if you parked by the trailhead, you’ll have to backtrack up the road about 100 feet). Along the path, there’s a white sign with black lettering tacked to a tree about 20 feet or so back. Continue along this trail, which winds through an incredibly luscious forest- after about 0.1 miles, you’ll reach a series of really steep hills, with ropes tied around trees and enormous rocks to help your descent.
Be super careful along these hills, especially if it’s been rainy or very cold, which may cause muddy or icy conditions. Given the extreme grade here (you’ll drop about 250 feet in elevation in the first 0.2 miles!), people have fallen on these inclines and have injured themselves- so please wear proper hiking boots (like these for men or these for women) to ensure you have the best traction and ankle support as possible.
The last ascent is the steepest and drops you right along the shores of Abiqua Creek. Here, you’ll turn left and continue walking along the creek on a series of moss-covered rocks (again, be careful- these are slick and would be very stabby if you happened to fall on them).
Note that if you’re visiting when the river is higher, like in springtime, the waterline may cover most of the rocks along the shore and you may have to do a fair amount of scrambling over logs and steep boulders. You’ll continue hiking along the creek, as the roar of the waterfall gets louder and louder, for another 0.3 miles, until you round a corner and see Abiqua Falls in all its glory.
While you’re at the base of the falls, be sure to take a look around the entire bowl the waterfall sits in– ferns cling to its dramatic cliffs, trees dripping with moss stretch over the turquoise river, and, if you’re visiting in the wintertime like me, you may even see some really intense-looking icicles along the cliff walls! Once you’re done taking in the spectacular views, you’ll retrace your steps and climb your way back up to the trailhead.
Tips for Abiqua Falls
- As mentioned above, this land is privately owned and is only shared with the public out of the pure goodness of the owners’ hearts. As such, please treat the land with the utmost respect and care and follow the leave no trace principles (like pack it in, pack it out and don’t graffiti on random things in the forest) to be sure that future visitors may have the fortune to marvel at Abiqua’s perfect hexagonal columns for many, many years to come.
- Did I mention the trail was, like, really steep? This would not be a good trail for kids, dogs, or anyone wholly unfamiliar with hiking.
- There’s no cell signal here, so I’d highly recommend downloading offline maps for both Google Maps and AllTrails before heading here, especially considering how confusing and poorly marked the area is.
Pssst… you need the AllTrails Pro version of the app to download offline maps, but you can get a 7-day free trial here. If you're wondering whether the app is for you, we wrote a whole post on whether AllTrails Pro is worth it.
Where to stay near Abiqua Falls
So I’m a little obsessed with this area- the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park is one of the coolest trails I’ve ever done (you get to hike behind FOUR of the ten waterfalls on this trail!) and the whole area has such a moody, mysterious beauty. It’s the perfect addition to any Oregon road trip or even just a little weekend trip on its own.
It’s definitely worth staying and exploring here for a few days, so if you’re in the market for nearby accommodations, consider:
- Oregon Garden Resort: Located in the historic town of Silverton (which is cute as a button), this cozy resort offers a fireplace in each room, a hot tub, and frequent live music in its restaurant.
- Silverton Inn and Suites: This affordable hotel is on the older side and has some quirky touches, but with an excellent location in Silverton and a lot of quaint charm, this may be the perfect accommodations for you if you don’t mind something a bit offbeat.
- The Grand Hotel: If you’re looking for more bougie than quirky, this hotel in nearby Salem, Oregon has amazing customer service, an indoor pool, AND free breakfast.
I hope you’re as wowed as I am by Abiqua Falls and sound off with any questions you have about the trail in the comments below!