Jen and I recently spent 10 days free of parental and work duties. One of the things on our bucket list during our F.F.O.V. (Ferrero F*ck Off Vacation) was a hike at Opal Creek. We’ve heard about its beauty time and time again and knew we had to check it out.
It’s around a 2 hour drive from Portland. The last five miles or so are dirt road so be prepared for dust and serious pothole swerving. Don’t forget to get your Forest Service permit ($5) ahead of time or bring cash to slip in the pay station on site.
The hike itself is a simple 6.25 mile round trip hike with only a 200 foot elevation gain. You are walking along an old road in a canopied forest of ancient Doug Firs. It’s more of a stroll than a hike. We saw lots of dogs, children and teenagers in flip-flops if that gives you a sense of what to expect.
Our method was to hike until we spotted a side trail which meant a small side hike to Opal Creek. Our first detour was a major success. We came upon a large pool with the bluest and greenest shades of water that was crystal clear. On a 90 degree day, there’s no question what to do next-jump in. The water wasn’t as cold as I expected. I was completely comfortable after the first minute. We shared Opal Creek information with the only person at the pool. We dried off then head further down the path.
Opal Creek is a former mining and timber operation so there is old equipment scattered every so often. Jen made this comment it felt like we were walking through a theme park. She wasn’t too far off on that idea.
After a while, we came across a former lumber processing area. All sorts of old pieces of iron are scattered include the former boiler for the U.S.S. Oregon. We continued on the side trail following the sound of voices to the next pool. This spot is known as Cascada de Los Niños. There was a 30-foot waterfall that led to another pool below it.
Further up the trail, we found another pool with a special feature-a built in water slide. A young boy gave me the basic instructions and I was on my way down the slide. After a few slides and a swim in the big pool, we made our way to Jawbone Flats.
Jawbone Flats is a historic mining camp built in the late 1920s. There are even cabins you can rent if you want to try your best Grizzly Adams impersonation.
The pinnacle of the hike is a trip to the Opal Pool just beyond Jawbone Flats. There were a couple of waterfalls and a few spectacular pools. Unfortunately the horseflies were out in full force so we made our way back to the car to keep from getting eaten alive.
It was a lovely walk back and an equally beautiful drive back to Hwy. 22 near the end of the day. If you’re looking for a full-day adventure, check out Opal Creek.