Explore the most popular birding trails in Opal Creek Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great trail and perfect 360 degree view of cascade. It’s about 10 miles though not 8.

Steady uphill hike with a beautiful view from the top.

Beautiful area, however, extremely crowded with people staying at opal creek ancient forest center (a really neat sustainable retreat area with cabins and activities for large groups) then lots of day hikers and river rats. All of which I’m totally fine with had I known what I was going to expect once I arrived. I came to backpack, not car camp and that’s what this place screams!!

We arrived at about 10am on a Tuesday in the middle of August. The parking lot had roughly 50-60 cars already and a shuttle van was making trips down the first part of the trail (roughly 3.5-4miles) to the cabins at opal creek ancient forest center. In previous reviews it was mentioned that the first few miles of the “trail” WAS a gravel road, but everyone failed to mention that it was STILL in use! I don’t want to share a trail with any vehicle unless I’m at a festival, and even that sucks. So after the giant shuttle van passed us we proceeded down (about 2.5-3 miles) to where the Kopetski Trail crossed the river and we hit are first single track of the day. Yay!

The single track is a little tight but it’s very manageable, yes the footing can be a little tricky but if you have on good sturdy shoes and watch where you’re going you’ll be fine. After crossing back over the bridge down by opal pool we were pretty burned out on all the crowds screaming and shrieking and were relieved to be heading past the “resort” like atmosphere.

Past the main crowds it’s about another 2 - 2.5 miles to cedar flats. Be forewarned only two pools deep enough to swim in that we could see and the last one is a good half mile from the two camp sites at the end of the trail. There are about four camp sites altogether from the crowded cabin area all the way along to the end out in Cedar Flats. Also there is a bees nest at the second to the last camp site. Almost everyone got stung once but the poor dog got it the worst.

So here’s the deal, had I known more of what to expect, I wouldn’t have gone for a backpacking trip here. I like solitude, over crowds, whilst packing. I would have gone for the river fun and maybe a quick day hike to checkout jawbone flats, the mining stuff, and the cool thing that the people out at opal creek ancient forest center got going on.

Pros: gorgeous, old growth viewing, old mining equipment, and mind shafts, quiet if your all the way out in cedar flats, easy hike with hardly any elevation gain, absolutely stunningly clear water!

Cons: tons of people, specific vehicles are prohibited to use the road/trail until opal creek learning center (not much traffic and they do drive slow but still a con) all the swimming holes are ran sacked with dozens of high energy kids and families making it tough to find time to relax at the river. It screams car camping vibe.

Totally fine but had I known for backpacking I just wouldn’t have done it. My fault should have researched more. This is really the purpose of this post. To help another backpacker gather info on this place so they can make a better choice.

steep but great views at the top. well marked trail.

It’s a great hike for first timers and great for kids. The cave was cool and the waterfall was pretty.

Great hike with no mosquitoes in August. Over 10 mi rt. All Trails map helpful as trail splits a couple of times. Just keep climbing to 360 degree views of Cascades and West Cascades. You take Tumble Ridge Trail up to Dome Rock Trail. Worth it.

hiking
15 days ago

Amazing hike!! Easy trail for beginners, with the option of a crazy steep trail for the more adventurous. Definitely will be going back here.

Great late afternoon hike. Easy but beautiful. And the fall at the end of the trail was worth every minute it took to get there. LOVE the area.

Great views and great conditioning hike if you add in Tumble Lake makes it 12.5 miles

hiking
1 month ago

Well maintained trail. Steady uphill climb. Nice view of Detroit Lake. Be prepared for mosquitos. They are aggressive.

Good climb first two miles, first half pretty over grown in areas once you hit the runoff. Trail is ridden with mosquitoes til the second half. Nice rock ledge for a quarter of a mile and a few logs to hurdle over along the way. No water past the 2.75 miles til you get to twin lakes. Didn't see alot of lake access but 4 to 5 camp spots. Good hike but the road in to Elk lake is slow going and 4 wheel drive would make it easier but we did pass a mercedes, proceed at your own risk. ;)

backpacking
1 month ago

The road up is tough, and pretty rocky. You end up having to Park where the split to Elk Lake is, as the road farther on is washed out. The trail could use some love but wasn't too bad. Enjoyed our stay at the lake. Upper twin is really nice this time of year. Just warm enough for a nice dip in the lake. Campsites are very well maintained, but please pick up your trash as we had to pick up quite a bit on our way out. The the trail to the lower twin seems to not be there anymore or is it very overgrown.

Not so kid-friendly at the end! The washouts weren't too bad, but the climb over the concrete structure was tricky- I kept my toddler in the carrier, suspended Superman-style over the cliff! Super easy until that point.

on Henline Falls Trail

1 month ago

Amazing and easy trail!

Super steep but very fun!

hiking
1 month ago

I have done this hike probably close to 10 times. I use it as a conditioning hike to prepare for S Sisters or St Helens because of the length and elevation gain. I checked the distance today with Map my Hike app and the distance from the top of Dome Rock to parking lot on Hwy 22 was just over 5 miles making round trip just over 10. Great hike for getting in shape.

backpacking
1 month ago

This trail makes an excellent overnight train up trip. Moderate distance and elevation gain. There are 10+/- blow downs on the trail but nothing too annoying. There were quite a few water sources along the way, so I never needed to carry more than one liter of water. Lots of small brook trout in Upper Twin and crawdads too. 5-6 good campsites on the northwest side of the lake. Very little mosquito activity on June 23-24, 2018.

Training to climb Kilimanjaro at the end of the year and looking for good training hikes. This one was a good one for that. not too long, but steady and constant elevation gain, rocky trail and beautiful view at the top. It's a great feeling when there is no more up until you remember the down is probably harder on tired legs. That was definitely the case on this trail.

Saturday morning and only one other couple on the trail. Definitely coming back to this one!

Fun hike great views from top.

Went midweek, only three other small groups on the trail. definitely earns hard rating, very steep and long. Great views from the old lookout site. Only earns 4 stars because trail after lookout to summit is unstable at times, narrow, sometimes overgrown, and has several fallen trees over it. I reached the Summit, but honestly the extra mile each way wasn't really worth it, as the views from the lookout are just as stunning and similar.

Such a great hike

backpacking
2 months ago

Trail is in good shape, road to the trailhead is rough and rocky but doable. Gorgeous views, great camp spots to stay overnight at Twin Lakes.

Easy but beautiful fall at the end, great trail for young kids.

backpacking
2 months ago

A great, easy “hike” which is mostly a walk along a gravel road until you get to Opal pool. From Opal pool to Cedar Flats though, the trail is legit terrifying in spots. Narrow single track, poorly maintained, with steep drop offs on the side. One area had just a large tree with small handholds notched in with a chainsaw... which would epically suck if you missed them. Another spot had s wobbly crank to cross a creek which would take you over the side.Still, it is stunningly beautiful, and the camp sites at the Flats are wonderful... flat and ride by Opal Creek. I’d attempt experience, nerves of steel and leave the kids and dogs at home.

hiking
2 months ago

So beautiful! The creek is stunning with several falls, pools, and the hike is varied with interesting things along the way, such as rusty train cars, Jawbone flats.
Don’t buy a Marion County Parks parking pass (I didn’t know so paid for one as soon as I turned onto N Fork Road)- you just need the NW Forest Pass or pay at the trailhead.
Footing is more technical and slower once you get on the Kopetski trail.
Allow about 4-5 hours round trip including breaks by the numerous pools.

hiking
2 months ago

It was a blast!!!! Ok

2 months ago

Large snow patches at 3.5 miles in.

backpacking
2 months ago

Awesome hike. SO difficult (for me) but absolutely worth it. Once you reach the look out point up top you have an incredible view of the surrounding mountains (whetstone, battle axe, etc.) and can see Mt. Jefferson looming in the distance. You can also see the valley down below to your right. A truly beautiful, challenging, entertaining hike. The only downside was we were unable to find any water once we started the hike. We had our filtration system but couldn’t use it. Supposedly if we’d continued just a bit further there may have been a creek, but we’re not sure if it would have been dry because of heat. Overall, great experience! I definitely recommend.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a beautiful and easy hiking trip with the littles. The 3 year old started to tire out on the way back but the trail was easy enough to carry him the rest of the way.

Great diverse trail from Opal Creek trailhead to Cedar Flats. This trail is an out and back hike with a total closer to 13.5-not 9.3. Be prepared to climb over logs and hike both road and single track. Jaw Bone Flats is a quirky little must see, as well as, Opal Pool.
I wouldn’t recommend for first time hikers or children under 10, unless they are well versed in hiking.

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