Opal Creek Trail

EASY 370 reviews
#2 of 127 trails in

Opal Creek Trail is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Elkhorn, Oregon that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
836 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

cave

forest

partially paved

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

historic site

Beginning at the Opal Creek Trailhead, this hike is on a gravel road through an old-growth forest of cedar trees. This trail takes you over a high bridge to the opal pool and you can loop around and go back through Jawbone Flats which is a fun little historic town to see. It is a great walk along an old road and an opportunity to explore an old mining operation abandoned over a century ago in this ancient forest. There are several little trail junctions that veer off the main trail that lead to swimming holes. Along the way you can also see Slide Falls and Sawmill Falls. This is a popular trail so do not expect to have place to yourself. Camping and parking are regulated due to the popularity of the site.

hiking
3 days ago

Came here on 12/7/18 roads were icy on the route alltrails takes you on Google maps. Dirt road coming in seemed a lot worse (pit hole riddled) than leaving. There are two vaulted toilet stalls here and they were clean. You can rent cabins at jawbone flats. If you want to do the loop I would make a right at the trailhead for the pools when you first come across the bridge it will be easier to follow if you don't have a preloaded map. This place is a must see the road is easy and opal pools trail is moderate to hard. This trail is 9.9 miles and we finished it in 5.5hrs. In jawbone flats the bathroom is closed for the winter. You can rent cabins in jawbone flats and if you are handicap, you can drive in if you are renting a cabin. Cabin prices are fairly expensive over $100. Jawbone flats is privately owned and surrounded by national forrest. You need a northwest forrest pass to park here or an American the beautiful or day pass. I believe $5/visit/day. We were the first ones on the trail and when we left there were 3 or 4 other cars in the lot on a Friday. There is ice on the trail this time of year in the early mornings so use caution. No drinkable water here if you are doing a day trip here, so make sure you bring plenty of water or have a filtration system. There are people that live here all year long. we saw 3 hikers and 3 dogs on this trail 2 dogs were not leashed up.

hiking
28 days ago

Great place. Amazing weather for Mid-November. Simple but so beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

Very easy long hike with a beautiful bridge and view at the halfway point. Cool mine town place also. long drive to get there though from salem area.

1 month ago

Basically, the right side is a trail and the left is a road. Look up some good directions online. Get there early. The rock slide isn't marked so you have to watch for it.

backpacking
1 month ago

It only seems like a quick little out n back.

6.4 mi if you're just gonna take a mellow walk to one of Oregon's smallest towns with a population of less than 20--though they do have their own hydroelectric power plant, a lodge, and cool little cabins.

So if you want a flat n easy 3.2 out, 3.2 back with some decent swimming holes here in there, go for it: anyone can make it. It's a flat and easy gravel road through some nice old growth that's as mellow on the feet as fat aunt Sharon's orthotics.

Start venturing off the trail, however, and you'll begin to find remnants and massive machinery from over a century ago when it was an active mining community. There are enormous boilers and hulking gear-and-pulley systems from times before there was power in the area. Many (giant) pieces of machinery were run from high-pressure steam systems, not to mention and gravity-fed mining hydro-systems. You'll find a little of this if you poke around off the main trail, but the hikes that aren't listed here are the ones that start at Jawbone Flats--and they offer some amazing glances back at a time and way of life long-forgotten.

Head east past the town, follow a spooky old sign pointing to the mines, and you'll find yourself on an amazing dark old growth over-canyon trail for a mile or two with remnants of old train tracks, machinery, and things you'd expect to see in grainy black-and-white Ken Burns photo-montages.

There are other cool creek trails with roots and medium-easy footing challenges south past the trail to the Opal Pools. if you want to explore some pleasantly deserted creek trails (with a decent spot or two to camp if you can handle some spots of tricky footing with your pack and gear).

But if you make it to the mines and start exploring in earnest, you'll discover that the trail didn't always end there. Find the remnants of a gigantic bridge and structure that probably washed away 50 years ago and you'll start finding things: like a trail that can connect you with the Bull of the Woods systems.

Moreover, not all of the mines are barred-off and closed. Make the dog-leg to the Ruth mine a little longer before you head-back on the upper trail a bit longer, and explore to the east, and maybe try-out the remnants of a road or two that looks like it hasn't been walked/used in 30 years, and you might find things. Also, look up/explore the canyon if you find the leftovers of a 15-ft wide bridge (and be careful on the rocks/over the stream--no one will be coming by if you make an error).

Anyway, it's an easy and popular hike if you like it easy, but if you're a bushwhacker's bushwhacker and have some time to explore and hop a stream or two, there are things to be found in the Opal Creek wilderness. And exercise caution if you poke-around: you'll often be the only one around for miles if you find something cool, and some of then old stream crossings/bridges are tenuous. Moreover, the navigation of trails that suffered a washout or haven't been maintained since the last century can be a challenge. And also a reward.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike. Great trail to hike on. Wish it was marked better. Saw all the falls but didn’t know which ones they were. Jaw bone flats was really cool. Would I do this hike again.. probably not.

hiking
1 month ago

Easy little stroll through the woods till you arrive at opal creek

hiking
2 months ago

the trail was really nice and our dogs loved it ! wide path !

2 months ago

Nice walk along mostly gravel path.

walking
2 months ago

beautiful easy hike! the leaves are gorgeous right now!

2 months ago

I’ve done this twice now. It’s a pretty trail no matter what time of year. WALK ON THE GRAVEL ROAD UNTIL YOU SEE A BRIDGE TO THE RIGHT. I see many people getting lost on the off spurt trails. Dog friendly, not a hard trail either. The gravel road is more tiring than the actual trail. Lots of cool history as well.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail! I took my dog with me and she loved it! The best part was the part leading up to the creek. Its so beautiful out there! I will definitely be returning.

hiking
3 months ago

this was such a fun trail dispite the fact that the opal pools were not quite as impressive as I was lead to believe. still very pretty. nice easy trail. the kids gave up about mile 4 though so unless you got some energetic kids with some hiking enthusiasm I wouldn't recommend it. jawbone flats is pretty cool I had no idea that was there. the path is mostly gravel road except for 1.3 miles that is good trail type trail. lots and lots of huckleberries this time of year.

3 months ago

Beautiful opal waters

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike ! Wish somebody would have said it was 6 miles of driving on gravel road because we popped a tire on the way down ... oof ... but other than that it was a really cool hike ! The natural water slide at the end was so cool. Maybe if they could put up more signs pointing to where to go to that would be helpful because we got a little confused.

So did this hike with co-workers. The app says it's an easy hike. it is not! More like moderate is how I would describe it. Over a gravel road and up and down spots. But that being said it is beautiful!!! All the little trails you can go off to see the waterfalls and the most beautiful pools of water ever!! Jawbone Flats is so cool!!! Here's the moderate part of the hike.... the 1.3 mls from Jawbone is a very narrow rocky and better watch out for the tree roots trail. But I am telling you the end results is totally worth it!! I would do it again!!!

hiking
3 months ago

Was great for swimming and hiking, I did it with 3 kids 14, 8, 6, water was beautiful and clear. Got there early and the parking lot was half full after we got back it was jam packed. Overall it was a really great hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike! GO EARLY if you want peace, quiet, and tranquility. We encountered a lot of large loud groups on our way out late morning. Trail is moderately easy but do recommend good shoes as it is long. Forest is stunning and the water crystal clear!

4 months ago

Loved it

hiking
4 months ago

Loved it

hiking
4 months ago

Gorgeous hike but could use some signage to guide you to the actual falls. Had a great hike and loved the natural slide.

4 months ago

gnarly ass cliff jumping at opal pools bro

backpacking
4 months ago

We hiked through Jawbone flats on the way in and on the way out we took the trail on the other side of the river. Very easy hike in as most of it was on a dirt road. We were there on a weekday so we hardly saw anyone the whole time. Although we did hear from the one person we saw that the pools had up to 60 people in them. We just swam by our campsite in the little pools there and we had a great time. We were all alone. Our boys played on the water slide and they loved that. They had it all to themselves. Our black lab had the roughest go on the trip. Wasps and yellow jackets kept attacking him ferociously. Overall we liked the trip. We had fun.

hiking
4 months ago

The hike is long and goes up and down hills, but flat sometimes. Nice forrest hike in the summer! Jawbone flats was super cool same with all the old mining equipment and closed mining shafts around! Frigid, clear, emerald waters are sooooo inviting on hot days. Go early to beat the crowds and parking is a b*tchhhhhhh if you come later then 10, have to park on side of road about 1/2 mile from trail head sometimes further. Theres plenty of off trail swim spots as well as the labeled ones, but just as worth it. PLEASE TAKE OUT THE TRASH YOU BRING IN. It is so heartbreaking to see so much litter and access if difficult to road for maintenance to clean up so PLEASE, TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU.
Anyways, all and all, the water was sooooo rewarding afterwards.
Totally worth the work and the drive out!

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful scenery!! The rocky trail is hard on the feet. I wish we would have kept going towards the education center and Jawbone instead of taking the 1.3 mile trail off to the right because that trail is brutal!

hiking
4 months ago

This trail was somewhat disappointing. I made it to slide falls before turning back. Heavily trafficked on a Friday from 12-3 pm. Lots of kids, lots of their parents asking for directions. I was frequently stuck behind large, slow moving groups.

Three stars because as suggested in the comments, the waterfall under the first bridge was really nice. Make the steep hike down, turn right right before the bridge. Nobody else was down there despite the place having almost 50 cars in the lot. The water is a really pretty blue. I would go back to this spot and not make the rest of the hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Long hike, beautiful waters, some swimming spots

4 months ago

the way to do this is really to hike out to cedar flats, camp overnight, then reward yourself on the walk back with a dip in the creek on a hot day, if you ask me! the gravel road really does cause some foot pain and feels like a trudge, so heads up on that. weekends may be hard to find parking or secluded spots. will definitely return for an overnight again. easy hike with a few obstacles like scooting across fallen trees on a cliffside if you take the trail out to cedar flats, but well marked and well maintained regardless.

4 months ago

Great hike, will be doing this one again!

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike! Be prepared to drive over five miles on a gravel road to get there; our rental SUV was just the ticket. Parking could be an issue on the weekend, we saw about 20 cars there on a Tuesday. Although we weren’t alone, we didn’t feel that it was too crowded by any means.
Just before two miles, start looking to the right of the trail. When you see a bunch of old rusty machinery, follow your ears to the right to get to the first swimming hole, a beautiful waterfall with clear, cool pools beneath. It’s a steep scramble to get down but totally worthwhile. Two tenths of a mile further, the path forks at a sign. Both trails end at the Opal Pool, another beautiful swimming hole. The left fork is about 1.1 miles and goes through an old mining town (now an educational center) and the right fork goes through forest on a steep and narrow path. There is a sign on the right fork which states that it is 1.3 miles to Opal Pool, but it is really much farther. Keep walking until you see the bridge, and if you want you can return the other way in which you came.
Loved it and and will come back.

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