Abiqua is quite a popular waterfall for being completely unmarked and on private land. We visited on Memorial Day, and it was so crowded that parking was a nightmare.
The road to the trailhead is very rough and requires a high-clearance vehicle. The trail is rough, as well. It’s muddy and so steep that there are several ropes strategically placed to help hikers get up and down.
So what draws the crowds? The waterfall is worth it. Abiqua is gracefully beautiful, set in a dramatic amphitheater along a picturesque creek. Waterfallsnorthwest.com calls it “near-perfect” and rates it #50 of the Top 100 waterfalls in the northwest.
It was so crowded on our visit that we didn’t linger very long, but I can imagine extending a visit by playing in the creek, picnicking on the rocky beach, or exploring the creek downstream. Just pick a day that’s not a holiday for your trip here and you should be set.
On your way to or from Abiqua, stop by Scotts Mills Park to view Scotts Mills Falls (also known as McKay Falls). The waterfall is just below a small concrete dam which diverts part of the creek, so this is an interesting mix of man-made and natural water features. It’s an enjoyable spot to check out, albeit nothing exceptional. FYI, in order to get a good view of the waterfall, you have to walk on a concrete wall and step across a gap.
My rating: Abiqua – Must See / Favorite (4 stars), Scotts Mills – Worth the Effort (2 stars)
(Abiqua: 4-star Waterfall; 2-star Trail; 3-star Experience. Scotts Mills – 2-star Waterfall, Trail rating is not applicable, and 2-star Experience.)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour and a half drive southeast
Nearest town: Scotts Mills
Nearest city: Salem
Length of round-trip hike: Just under a mile (Abiqua); none (Scotts Mills)
Best season to visit: any
Things to know:
- Since Abiqua is on private land, please be especially courteous and respectful of the property.
- Since Abiqua is on private land, the trail is not well marked or maintained.
- Abiqua is not a good hike for young children.
- Even though this is not a long hike, it is not an easy hike.
- The trail to Abiqua can be pretty muddy at times.
- The road to Abiqua is pretty rough and is best attempted in a high-clearance vehicle. When we visited, the worst part of the road was about a mile in. If you can make it past that point, you should be able to make it all the way.
- The parking at the end of the road is very limited.
- Consider swimming at Scotts Mills Falls. Bring towels!
Consider combining this trip with: Butte Creek Falls and Upper Butte Creek Falls
Toilet / Amenities: None at Abiqua. Restrooms, picnic tables, and more at Scotts Mills. However, the port-a-potty at the park was in desperate need of maintenance when we visited, and there are no other public restrooms in the town.
How to get there:
- From Highway 213, turn east onto Scotts Mills Road.
- After 2.7 miles (while in the town of Scotts Mills) turn right onto Crooked Finger Road.
- In one-tenth of a mile, turn left into Scotts Mills Park. (This is where Scotts Mills Falls is located.)
- To continue on to Abiqua, follow Crooked Finger Road south for an additional 10.8 miles (1.5 miles past the end of the pavement).
- Turn right on an unmarked gravel road and drive straight through a gated area. Stay straight at any junctions for the next 2.5 miles until the road ends at a locked gate. Park here in the small pull-out.
- From the parking area, walk back along the road in the direction you came from. Skip the first rough trail that leaves right from the end of the parking area. Look down the hill on your right after about 100 feet and you’ll see a second trail dropping down through the trees.
- The path descends steeply for 0.2 mile to the creek. Then, it turns upstream, reaching the waterfall in another 0.3 mile.