Day Trip: Abiqua Falls & Butte Creek Falls

  • Location: Scotts Mills, Oregon
  • Google map: Don’t even try it, see directions below.
  • Drive time from Portland: 1h35m +/-
  • Permit: n/a
  • Intensity: Butte Creek Falls – a mile long, “easy.” Doable for beginners. Abiqua Falls – less than a mile long, with some super steep, sketchy scrambles. Challenging.
  • Open: all year, supposedly.
  • Pair with: all within an hour of Silver Falls, Shellburg Falls

This was A Day. A great day, but I fucking worked for it. It took me three attempts and many hours of driving around to find Abiqua Falls, but I had all day and I was not going to give up. There is NO cell reception here. I never rely on cell reception anyway and I generally carry two sets of directions for places I’ve never been to (screen shots of directions online + a hiking book), but everything I had on Abiqua Falls was incorrect. I’d get a signal every now and again for about a second, never long enough to find a new source. Google Maps will tell you it has directions for “Abiqua Falls Trailhead” but it is lying to you. So, I’ve provided tried and true directions.

I’m making this sound terribly ominous, so let’s start with beautiful, pleasant, Butte Creek Falls, which I found on accident while looking for Abiqua Falls. This short, well-graded, well-maintained trail makes a nice loop between upper and lower Butte Creek Falls. Both falls were beautiful! This one should not be missed if you are going to Abiqua Falls.

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Upper Butte Creek Falls

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Lower Butte Creek Falls


After driving out of the area and into town for reception twice, I finally found directions that took me to my desired destination. The road that leads to Abiqua Falls is terrible and should not be attempted without a high clearance vehicle. I did it in my Toyota Corolla, but I do not recommend it. If the road was at all muddy or if I had even one other person in my car it probably would’ve been a disaster. My tires spun many times going up some of the steeper pitches. It’s no joke, I got scared. (An idea: you could always park at the top of the turn off and walk the 2.5 miles to the falls. It would be a steep hike, but much safer.)

The trek to the falls is only about 0.4 mile, but 0.2 of that is a really intense vertical 180-foot cliff scramble. There are actually ropes in a couple of parts to help, but honestly, even with its steepness, I found it pretty doable. There were a lot of things to hold onto and gain footing with. I would not recommend this for beginners, people who have a hard time lifting their body repeatedly or those who don’t feel sure-footed on steep climbs. At the bottom of the cliff, the trail flattens along the creek with the occasional log or rock to climb around.

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Seeing that waterfall for the first time made all of that other shit not matter.


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Getting good at my cute tripod.


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Directions to Abiqua Falls:

  • From I-205 S, take exit 10 toward Molalla – 0.2 mile
  • Keep right at fork following signs for Oregon 213 – 23 miles
  • Turn left onto S Nowlens Bridge Rd – 400 feet
  • Turn right to stay on S Nowlens Bridge Rd – 2.4 miles
  • Turn left onto Crooked Finger Rd NE. SET ODOMETER! – 10.9 miles (The road is unpaved at about the 9.5 mile mark)
  • Turn right on a wide, poorly marked road. There will be a sign about some ATV staging thing.
  • At about 0.1 you’ll see this big open area. Follow the road down to the right for 2.5 miles to a gate and park where you can.

From here, back up on foot a short distance (50-100 feet) and you’ll find the trail heading downhill. Watch for this sign and you’ll know you’re in the right place:

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The turn off for Butte Creek Falls is on Crooked Finger Rd just 0.5 miles past where you turn off for Abiqua Falls. Turn left onto CF400 for 1.9 miles. You’ll drive through this weird clear cut area, but it’s easy, well-graded and well-signed at this point. The trailhead parking is on the left by a vault toilet.

so sweaty, so happy // look like shit, feel like gold

A post shared by Jenny Bruso (@unlikelyhikers) (@jennybruso) on

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6 thoughts on “Day Trip: Abiqua Falls & Butte Creek Falls

      1. Everybody should be standing at any time in front of a waterfall. The world would be a much better place. Maybe with some nice little baby rabbits around. And a rainbow. And unicorns … 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My girlfriend and I plan on making the hike at the end of April. You talk about parking at the turn off if you don’t have a high clearance vehicle. Is the turn off at the .1 mile mark after the ATV sign you mention in your directions? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Exactly, however, if you’re feeling a little extra adventurous, I remember there were one or two single-car-sized pullouts early on in the 2.5 mile stretch. You could try to nab one, but for the utmost safety, you’re better off parking in the big pullout area I wrote about.

      Like

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