Best time to visit Oregon

Opal Creek in Oregon 2024

A beautiful destination with dozens of waterfalls along the hiking trails

Best time: April–October

Opal Creek
Opal Creek

Opal Creek wilderness is an excellent area to hike the ancient and rugged forest with large towering trees, picturesque waterfalls, and refreshing swimming holes. With eight trails for hiking and biking, five lakes and dozens of waterfalls, this 20,746-acre wilderness is a paradise for backpackers and campers. The trails are open year round, but the best season for hiking and kayaking is from April to October.

The popular 11-km (7-mi) Opal Creek Trail, also known as Kopetski Trail, can be reached from Lyons, OR, in about two hours from Portland by car. The hike starts at the Opal Creek Trailhead in the spectacular cedar forest, among 500-year-old trees. After hikers cross the high bridge over Gold Creek, they can get all the way to the scenic Opal Pool and abandoned mining camp of Jawbone Flats. After several hours of walking it's great to take a break near at the Slide Falls or Sawmill Falls. Both falls feature deep green pools of clear water ideal for a refreshing summertime swim.

Jawbone Flats is an interesting town boasting a couple of dozens of buildings dating back to 1929-1932. Jawbone Flats is not an abandoned town, it has residents, and visitors are asked to respect their privacy. A village has a store with snacks and drinks to refill your supplies. There are also a few cabins available for rent.


Please note that the Beachie Creek fire in 2020 did a lot of damage to the Opal Creek wilderness area, but the area is currently under renovation.

Practical info

What is the best time of year to visit Opal Creek Wilderness?

Opal Creek Wilderness is ideal for hiking and kayaking from April to October when the weather is warm and mild. Visitors should note that rain is unpredictable in the area, and it is recommended that hikers check the weather forecast before visiting. However, the beauty of this natural reserve is undeniable in all seasons. Show more

How do I get to Opal Creek Wilderness from Portland?

Located two hours east of Portland, Opal Creek Wilderness can be reached through Hwy. 22. The last 10 miles of the road to the trailhead is rough, and a 4WD is recommended to access the trailhead. Alternatively, visitors can park on the last stop of the bridge and walk to the trailhead. Shuttle services from Portland are also available through tour companies. Show more

What are some of the popular hikes in Opal Creek Wilderness?

Opal Creek Trail, also known as Kopetski Trail, is the most popular 11-km hike in the area, featuring cedar forests, a picturesque waterfall, and amazing ancient trees. Other great trails are Henline Falls Trail, King Castle Trail, and Iron Mountain Trail. Researching the trail first and assessing the visitor's skill level before choosing a hike is encouraged. Show more

Can I swim in the lakes and waterfalls in Opal Creek Wilderness?

Visitors can enjoy swimming in the pristine, clear waters of the lakes and waterfalls in Opal Creek Wilderness, such as Sawmill Falls and Slide Falls, which have deep pools of water. While the water temperature in these pools may be cold, it is refreshing and perfect for swimming in the summer. Show more

What should I know about the abandoned mining camp of Jawbone Flats?

Jawbone Flats is a once prosperous mining town dating to the 1930s gold rush period of Oregon. The abandoned town has been given new life by a close-knit community of residents who built eco-friendly homes and turned it into a vibrant community. Visitors are welcome to purchase from the store, explore the town, but not allowed to go inside homes to respect the residents' privacy. Show more

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