Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
7.20 mi (11.59 km)
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.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Stunning river. Waterfalls. Swimming. Historic mine.


Peak summer crowds.

Trailhead Elevation

1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)

Net Elevation Gain

200.00 ft (60.96 m)


Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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