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

hiking
1 day 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.

Steady uphill hike with a beautiful view from the top.

on Opal Creek Trail

hiking
2 days 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!

Loved it

hiking
2 days ago

Loved it

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.

on Opal Creek Trail

hiking
14 days ago

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

17 days ago

gnarly ass cliff jumping at opal pools bro

backpacking
17 days 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
21 days ago

This is a good little run up the mountain. It's more difficult than moderate. It's a good path but steep. Go in the summer. Normally snow till July, but this year it was clear in April. Take a truck, some cars could make it but as someone that has done it with a car I advise at least something with clearance. Rocks fall on the road all the time and it can be sketchy trying to get around as one side is a straight drop off and the other side of the road is a wall. One of the best views!

hiking
21 days 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
21 days 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
22 days 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
22 days ago

Long hike, beautiful waters, some swimming spots

hiking
24 days ago

The drive up is freaky and the hike is very steep on one side. The view is worth it though. There were also a lot of flies on the hike but also beautiful butterflies. I recommend not to do this hike in 90 degree weather like I did.

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.

Great hike, will be doing this one again!

hiking
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike filled with nature beauty of mountains, woods and pools.

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. ;)

hiking
1 month ago

We started early...saw no one on our way to the pools. Beautiful hike the whole way....water was cold but nice for the kids and dog to play in before heading back.

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.

great place to take a largr group and to swim

although the water is beautiful I don't think I would do this hike again. I think it is slightly overrated. I have seen more beautiful scenery with less people around (Not that it isn't pretty). People complain about hiking on the gravel road but it is honestly one of the nicer and maintained paths I've encountered in my hiking days. As we were analyzing people we noticed a lot of them we're wearing flip-flops and Van type shoes. So that is why their feet hurt. Not the trails fault it is their fault so ignore those comments if you are prepared with proper shoes. We could never find the falls in the pictures you see. After returning from the hike we honestly think they are the falls after crossing the very first Bridge. So if that's what you want to see then I would just crawl down from there if that's what you're going for. I think the bridge was about a half-mile in.

At about 2 mi in you hit a junction. It says going to the right you have 1.3 miles to opal Creek and to the left you have an education center.(take The education center trail if you want to see Jawbone flats and the old cars). We went to the right only to find it took us to a random location with some pretty Falls and Clear water. There was a natural slide as well. We ended up having to cross the water after enjoying it for a little bit only to end up back on the same Trail heading towards the education center. We continued hiking up to finally get to Jawbone Flats and saw the old cars from the 1920s that we were hoping to see. At this point we saw another sign that said only a quarter mile more to get to opal Creek and we were thinking it was going to be the Falls we were anticipating only to get there and find it was a random Gorge area. The Gorge was pretty but after spending about 4 to 5 miles of hiking all over the place we were done. we are experienced hikers so the 4 to 5 miles isn't bad but we were tired from all the other hiking that day. I'm more frustrated that signs weren't very clear. So if you're wanting to go to see the falls and nothing else just stop at the first bridge and hike down from there and you will have some beautiful Falls.

We hiked at least 8 miles RT with taking the ill-marked signs And never got to the actual falls bc of poor signage. we asked multiple ppl but were told different things. pretty water, but I'd do a different hike next time with just as pretty water.

Good trail, mostly road.

hiking
1 month ago

The water is so crystal clear but the gravel road is hard on the feet. Most of it was walking on the road.

The water is beautiful but other hikes have the same. This trail is half a gravel road and the loop is over 7 miles. The gravel road is a feet killer so be prepared. Once was enough for this one.

Super steep but very fun!

hiking
1 month ago

Bad ass hike would give it 5 stars but the opal creek wilderness is gonna reclaim this hidden gem since no one has performed trail maintenance in years

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