A Northwestern Trail Leads Hikers To A Stunning Destination Ripped Straight From Iceland

There are many reasons people decide to travel, but if you ask a cascade-chaser what their motivations are, they'll point you toward the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. These adventurous spirits who can't get enough of torrents made by nature often dedicate their exploration solely to discovering hidden wonders. Places like Iceland have long fascinated cascade hunters thanks to impressive landmarks like the Oxararfoss Waterfall and Hengifoss Waterfall, alongside many others. However, if you're heading to the Northwest U.S., you can count on finding an equally tantalizing option in the form of Abiqua Falls.

This waterfall located in Oregon is an exciting natural landmark with the ability to compete with some of Iceland's very best. Part of what makes it so distinct and reminiscent of the waterfalls in Iceland is the unmistakable geometric aesthetic. When you visit Abiqua Falls, you'll have the chance to admire a collection of gorgeous hexagonal columns that make up the walls of the basin. A visit here is even more intriguing when you realize that columns of this kind are rather rare because the conditions leading to the specific shapes have to be perfect. These hexagonal results are only achieved when lava cools very quickly and is more immediately formed into sturdy volcanic rock.

Admire captivating colors, land formations, and views

Abiqua Falls sits about 35 miles from Salem, Oregon, not far from Silver Falls State Park. But unlike nearby cascades, Abiqua Falls doesn't sit within park limits. Instead, it's located on private property owned by the Mount Angel Abbey. Fortunately for cascade chasers, the abbey has agreed to allow the public to explore the trail leading to Abiqua Falls. This is done with the understanding that these excursions must always remain respectful to people and nature.

Upon arrival, you're sure to be in for a dazzling surprise. Towering 92 feet tall, this cascade is impressive and nestled within forested, moss-covered terrain. It's a picture-perfect place for photos because the black basalt columns stand out vividly against the surrounding greenery. Making the experience even more dynamic is the fact that the basin walls create an amphitheater effect with the sound of water rushing down into the vast pool below. Summer is an ideal season to see the waterfall as ferns and moss thrive along the trail. The trail to the cascade is open all year long, however, so a winter hike to see the walls covered in icicles instead is always an option.

Reaching Abiqua Falls requires some effort on foot, but this is one of those hidden waterfalls that's worth your while. The trail is designed as an out-and-back route that's less than a mile but includes challenging terrain. It's rated moderately difficult and you'll want to prepare for an elevation gain of around 180 feet.

Prepare for Iceland-inspired experiences in Oregon

Even the shortest flight to Iceland from the U.S. takes about five hours. When you don't have the time to fly thousands of miles, a trip to Oregon's Abiqua Falls could give you a taste of the country you've been longing for. Of course, that doesn't mean your closer-to-home adventure will be without exciting challenges. The trailhead to the waterfall isn't outfitted with many directional signs and can be tricky to locate. Being prepared for some strategic navigation to get where you're going is advisable.

You'll need to drive through the town of Scotts Mills following Crooked Finger Road NE to reach the unpaved road that leads to a gravel parking lot. From here, you'll begin your hike along the cascade trail which is steep as it winds its way towards the creek. You'll be required to traverse rocks and logs along the water line until the moment you successfully reach the waterfall's vast basalt bowl.

Depending on how rainy the weather is, the rocks on this trail can be dangerously slippery. Hikers should wear sturdy hiking shoes for this steep route that's best suited to experienced trekkers. It's also important to be aware that once you get on the trail, there's rarely cell service available. Downloading a map you can use offline before you set out on your Iceland-inspired and waterfall-seeking adventure is highly recommended.