What draws people to Abiqua Falls is one stand out feature: The basalt amphitheater over which the waterfalls flows. The wall of the amphitheater is made up of geometrically perfect hexagonal columns. In winter time, visitors may even glimpse icicles hanging off the rock wall.
Not only are visitors treated to this interesting geological formation – a rare sight in Oregon – but the falls itself flows into a deep sea green splash pool that looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. In warmer months, some thrill seekers even like to swim here. The whole area is surrounded by the signature moss-covered towering green trees of the Santiam State Forest.
The problem is actually finding the falls: Although Abiqua Falls is near Silver Falls State Park, it’s actually owned by a monastery which opened the property up to the public. As a result, the trail to falls is not maintained by the parks service, and there is no clearly marked way to get there.
The trailhead is in Scott Mills, Oregon (not Sublimity, where the Silver Falls State Park is located), on Crooked Finger Road Northeast. The road is gravel and will lead to an unofficial unmarked trailhead. All you’ll see is a sign informing visitors that they have entered private property. Once you park, the directions for which trail to take get even more complicated, but AllTrails has a rundown of what markers you should be on the lookout for (including a downed tree) to make sure you’re on the right trail.
Once you’re on the right path, the hike does become challenging. Though it’s less than a mile round trip, there is a steep elevation gain along the way. Although there are ropes positioned along the muddy path to help you gain traction, you’ll also have to scramble over rocks and logs at some points of the trail, so this particular hike isn’t considered family friendly.
The trail runs parallel to Abiqua Creek, which you will hear burbling pleasantly along beside you as you walk. As you get closer to the falls, you’ll start to hear the familiar sound of roaring water.
Once you get to the falls, you aren’t likely to encounter much of a crowd because getting there requires navigating complicated directions and a strenuous uphill hike. So enjoy the serene views and peace of nature – just be careful of slippery rocks near the falls.