Although less than four miles away — as the crow flies — from the geologically-similar and better-known North Falls
and Upper North Falls
of Silver Falls State Park,
the remote, lesser-known, difficult-to-get-to Abiqua Falls
is, for all practical purposes, a world away. As you can see from the photo to the right, even some of the flora seems to be from another world.
To begin your journey to Abiqua Falls, you first need to get to the village of Scotts Mills,
which is a couple of miles southeast of Oregon Route 213
At the eastern end of Scotts Mills, you take Crooked Finger Road south and east for 10.8 miles — 9.4 miles of that is paved, after that it's gravel. At this point, you turn right on an unmarked (except for a small post with "7-2E-33" on it) road which is the last segment of route to Abiqua Falls. So far, so good!
The first mile of the Abiqua Falls road is not too bad, but the next mile-and-a-half until the end of the road is quite rough, and you will probably want to be driving a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle. This 2.5 mile road is quite steep — from the Crooked Finger Road turnoff at the top, to the parking spot at the end of the road, it's a drop of just over 1,000 feet in elevation.
On my way down the steep and treacherous 0.2-mile hiking trail from the parking area to Abiqua Creek
— during which the terrain lost about 260 feet in elevation — I almost lost my footing numerous times, but never fell. It almost seemed like angels from the Mount Angel Abbey
— on whose property I was hiking — were on each side of me, lifting me up and guarding me in all my ways (Psalm 91:11-12
)! Surely I should have fallen many times, but somehow I didn't! It's not like the trail was exactly slippery, or composed of loose gravel, but it was quite steep, and rocks in the path would often come loose.
Once I had reached this point at the bottom of the canyon — the halfway point to Abiqua Falls
— I naïvely expected the going to be much easier. But the path (seen on the left bank of the creek) was so rocky, and there were so many fallen trees across the path that in the end it was not really much easier. Finally, after a ninety-minute hike (including lots of stops to take pictures), I arrived at my goal: Abiqua Falls.
How can words adequately describe this stunning work of art? How can I say it better than what has already been said elsewhere?
Abiqua Falls is a near-perfect free-falling waterfall of 92 feet in height set amid a spectacular basaltic amphitheater, framed by some of the best examples of columnar jointing that can be found in western Oregon.
Rather than rely on feeble words, you can feast your eyes on the 21 photos of the waterfall that are in this album. At first, you might think that that is an unnecessarily large number of picture for just one subject. But with various combinations of different angles, lenses and exposure settings, each photo presents a unique perspective. See for yourself as you browse through the album.
After enjoying and capturing the beauty of this magical location for about an hour and a half, I headed back to my truck the same way I had come. Even though the path rose sharply uphill for the last half of the hike, I still made it back in only 55 minutes — and of course I could not resist indulging in some more picture taking.
All in all, it was quite an endeavour to get to Abiqua Falls and back. It's so close to Silver Falls on the map, but so far in reality! I took at total of 294 photos during this outing, which I have narrowed down to the best 60, including, as I mentioned above, 21 of the waterfall itself, and two panoramas.