Hike-in Required
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Set in the heart of the Opal Creek Wilderness, Jawbone Flats is an old mining town that is now a tiny, thriving community based around the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center.

Gold miners moved into the area as early as 1859, and by 1930 the Jawbone Flats mining camp had begun to take shape.  Mining continued in the valley until 1992, when the Shiny Rock Mining Company bestowed the 151 acres, including Jawbone Flats, to Friends of Opal Creek. Friends of Opal Creek, a 501(c)(3) non-profit,  now maintains the community of Jawbone Flats which includes the Ancient Forest Center (which runs a summer outdoor schools and forestry workshops), residences for staff, several vacation rentals, and its own small hydroelectric plant.

One key feature that makes Jawbone Flats so special is that it can only be accessed via a 3.1 mile one-way hike along the Opal Creek Trail, which ensures solitude and calm for all its visitors.  While you are visiting, discover all of the abandoned machinery and vehicles that have been left behind over the last century, explore the numerous swimming holes of Opal Creek, and enjoy additional hikes to Cedar Flats, Henline Falls, Henline Mountain, or climb 3,000 feet to the top of Whetstone Mountain to enjoy views of the entire wilderness, Mount Jefferson, and numerous other peaks of the Cascade Range.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Historic mining town. Rental Cabins. Incredible hiking and swimming.


3.6-mile hike to access.

Pets allowed



Big vistas
Old-growth forest


Nearby Adventures

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
Mt. Jefferson + Metolius River Area, Oregon


Had the opportunity to stay in Jawbone Flats during a wilderness first responder course for 5 days. The accommodations were impeccable! Very unique setting to take this class, perfectly ideal. I had ample opportunities to explore the area and document this amazing place.
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