Opal Creek Hiking Trail

Willamette Foothills, Oregon

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Opal Creek Hiking Trail
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  • The beginning of the trail on NF-2209, which leads to Jawbone Flat.  Only open to local residents.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Small pool off of NF-2209.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Old mine shaft.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • The beginning of the trail on NF-2209.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Old locamotive boiler at Merten Mill.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Sawmill Falls.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Abandoned building at Merten Mill.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Swimming hole and beach just past Sawmill Falls.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • - Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Cascades blueberry (Vaccinium deliciosum).- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Pool at Slide Falls.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Slide Falls.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Backcountry campsites near Slide Falls.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Footbridge leading to Jawbone Flats.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Opal Pool (great cliff jumping spot).- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • A coastal giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) enjoys a delectable slug on the Opal Creek Trail.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Opal Creek drains Opal Pool.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Opal Creek is channeled through a narrow passage before plunging into Opal Pool.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
  • Opal Creek Falls above Opal Pool.- Opal Creek Hiking Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Stunning river. Waterfalls. Swimming. Historic mine.
Cons: 
Peak summer crowds.
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Alerts: 
New regulations are in effect for the area, please see details below.
Region:
Willamette Foothills, OR
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
7.20 mi (11.59 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

Until 1998, the fate of the old-growth forest surrounding Opal Creek was in jeopardy due to highly controversial Forest Service logging proposals for the area.  Luckily for hikers, sun bathers and outdoor enthusiasts, the area is now protected as the Opal Creek Wilderness. The Opal Creek Hiking Trail is the ideal way to tour this diverse area.

Gold mining in the valley began as early as 1859, centered around Jawbone Flats, and continued as late as 1992.  Remnants of the mining operations can be seen along the entire length of the hike, including abandoned mine shafts, old machinery, structures from Merten Mill, and by visiting the rejuvenated community of Jawbone Flats.

Beyond exploring the valley's history, the Opal Creek Hiking Trail will lead you to some of the state's best swimming holes...albeit with very cold and often shaded water.  Jump in the pools below Sawmill Falls, shoot yourself through Slide Falls only three quarters of a mile down the trail, or take the roughly 30-foot plunge into Opal Pool. More, continue an additional 1.5 miles past Jawbone Flats and Opal Pool along Opal Creek to Cedar Flats where a grove of western red cedars up to 1,000 years old soar over the valley floor and remind us what a true old-growth forest feels like.

Note: Significant crowding, vandalism, and disruptive behavior have resulted in several new regulations. The implementation of these regulations follows an extensive public comment period. Effective May 26, 2017:

  • Cars will be turned away once the 90-space parking lot for Three Pools is full, and parking will no longer be allowed outside of the parking lot.
  • Significantly, alcohol is now prohibited at the Three Pools Recreation Site.
  • Campfires are now prohibited along the route from the Opal Creek Gate Trailhead to Jawbone Flats. Parking will only be allowed within a quarter mile of the trailhead.
  • Camping is prohibited for 5 miles up Road 46 along the Breitenbush River 500 feet from the roadway.
  • Camping is prohibited at Elk Lake outside of the official Elk Lake Campground.
  • Dispersed camping is prohibited for the first 2 miles up French Creek Road and 8 miles on Blowout Creek Road.
Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(43 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(68 within a 30 mile radius)

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