If you’re willing to get a little muddy, and don’t mind misty air in your hair, there is a private fairytale-esque waterfall at the bottom of a mossy forest outside of Scotts Mills Oregon, waiting just for you.
Abiqua Falls Trail and the waterfall itself is on private land opened to the public for recreational use. It’s just outside of the more crowded “Silver Falls State Park,” and once experienced, it is a waterfall you will compare all others to.
The trail is muddy and slippery in the Fall, but well-worth the risk of a few bruises from any subsequent falls.
I speak from experience, having fallen on my way down a slippery section, even while using the ropes that are there to assist and prevent such incidents. I would still do it again though, fall and all, because it’s that beautiful.
Autumn does a magical job of creating an orange, yellow and mossy green contrast, as you bask under the lush canopies of vibrantly colored trees thinking it can’t possibly get more beautiful, until you turn a corner, and there it is.
Several small but beautiful waterfalls rush over mossy rocks, leading you to their origin. A powerful scene, with Abiqua Falls draping itself firmly over the orange and brown cathedral-like rock wall in a 92-foot-veil of whitewater.
It can be a little tricky to find the Abiqua Falls Trailhead, since Google Maps seems to lead you into an abyss on a rugged road without cell service. However, if you know what you’re looking for it can make it a little easier.
From the small town of Scotts Mills, Oregon, you need to head South on Crooked Finger Road about 10 miles until the pavement ends along with any service on your cell phone. About another mile and a half up the gravel road, you’ll turn right onto a more rugged dirt road (CF-300) marked by signs posted to a tree. From there it gets rough, and you should use your best judgment about your car’s abilities. The dirt road dead-ends about 2.5 miles in, where you’ll come across a locked gate. It will seem like you’re in the wrong place, and that’s how you’ll know you’re going the right way. Park anywhere along the dirt road where you see a large enough shoulder, and then follow the dirt road down to the trailhead by foot.
Alternatively, if you have 4-wheel-drive or don’t mind risky driving situations, head down to the dirt parking area by the locked gate at the bottom.
The trail itself is about a 1 mile out and back hike downhill (2 miles roundtrip). That excludes the distance you may have to walk to the trailhead depending how far out you park.
The trail is relatively easy, but can be steep and slippery at parts. In the steepest part, there are ropes to help support you as you slide downhill towards the creek.
Once you reach the creek, the trail levels out with the exception of climbing over some rocks and tree roots.
Don’t forget to walk around the base of the falls to get different vantage points of the area.
The best view is probably just as the falls comes into sight, I recommend taking a moment to appreciate and capturing the scene on camera.
Things to Note
- I recommend bringing a camera carrying case or a backpack, and then actually use it, because the slippery parts get rough, and the last thing you want is to tumble with your phone or camera in hand or around your neck (learn from my mistakes please)
- The trail is dog-friendly (as far as I know), despite some conflicting things I read online. There are no signs posted that say “dogs not allowed”, and I saw plenty of dogs on the trail. Just be prepared to clean up some muddy paws afterwards.
Now get your waterproof hiking boots on, grab your camera, and go enjoy your jungle walk to the stunning Abiqua Falls!