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Opal Creek Day Hike, Jawbone Flats - Willamette National Forest

On occasion, we will highlight a past adventure. An adventure that is still vibrant in our memories for the experience or a place that we’ve revisited many times. One of those excursions was to Opal Creek and Jawbone Flats in July a few years ago. Every once in awhile, it is worth going off the path for a little adventure. We were camping with a group of friends near Detroit Lake, Oregon. We decided to stay an extra day after the trip and looked for a new hike. We found the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area. It was not too far from Detroit Lake and looked worth exploring. 

Jawbone Flats sign population 10 on a evergreen tree

The trailhead is around thirty miles from Detroit, by way of Highway 22 to Gates Hill Road. The hike and area are very popular. We took our day packs, with lunch and water, swimming gear, and Euro.

The hike is a lollipop shape, where you’ll begin and end on the same mining road, off the mining road. We took tangents off the trail to see and play around the mining equipment.

Alisha smiling inside a rusted mining cart Opal Creek Day Hike

We spent time exploring Jawbone Flats and ate our lunch there.

Michael and Euro taking a break around Jawbone flats picnic shelter, Oregon

Later, the trail is more rustic and we had the chance to experience the wilderness.

Bridge and mountain water pool in Willamette National Forest, Opal Creek Wilderness, Oregon

In all, the hike we took was just about seven miles round trip and we took most of the day to explore the area. We saw streams, waterfalls, and pools where people jumped into the water from the rocks.

  • Bring your swim clothes and shoes - just incase. Once you see how beautiful it is, you may be tempted to at least get your feet wet.
  • There are no bathrooms/changing rooms. Bring essentials: towels, toilet paper, etc. and leave no trace.
  • There are no restaurants, mini-marts, etc. This place is truly off the grid. Turn off your cell phone and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Parking can be a challenge and you may be turned away. There is a lot of hiking in the area, so have an alternate planned.
  • Plan enough time. The hike is approximately 7 miles, but there is so much to explore, people to meet, and relaxing to be done.
  • More information can be found at the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center.

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After three days of camping and the Opal Creek day hike, we stayed the night in Detroit at a hotel there. I love stopping in Detroit and when we are in the area, we always stop at the store for a coffee or snack, but know that it’s a little town catering mostly to those passing through with very few restaurant options. 

We had a great time exploring the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area and talking with others enjoying the area and wilderness. This hike was definitely worth the visit.  Get inspired to get outside by reading more of our blog.

Midcentury mining relics, trucks and vehicles in Opal Creek Wilderness, Oregon

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