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Posted on Nov 4, 2015

Adventures in Oregon: Opal Creek

Well, well, well. Here we are again. I think you know the routine by now – wow, how time flies, busy busy busy, the poor blog has been woefully neglected but I’m here now. I have plenty to write about – some serious things and some silly stuff, too. However, my brain does this annoying thing where it wants me to write up events in chronological fashion, so rather than tell you about some of the heavy stuff that’s been going on in the last week, I must rewind to when I last left you and tell you about our hike along Opal Creek. We’ll get to the other stuff in due course, I promise.

A while back, when the leaves were first starting to turn and the air was taking on that fresh, crisp edge unique to autumn, we set out to visit Opal Creek. A co-worker had recommended it and her description hooked me. Tall trees, pristine water and the remnants of an old mining camp – that was enough to get us out the door, with Sasha and Annie in tow.

One of the destinations along our hike included Jawbone Flats, an old mining camp that grew into a tiny town and is now maintained by the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center for all kinds of educational programs, ranging from science programs for children to wilderness medicine courses. Along the first section of our hike, remnants of an old sawmill, historic Merten Mill, sat sheltered under towering trees.

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We took a short side trail behind the old mill to see Cascada de Los Ninos, also known as Sawmill Falls.

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This was such a beautiful and peaceful spot. I did a terrible job of capturing just how clear the water was here – so incredible.

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The hounds waited patiently (sort of) for me to put my camera down and get back on the trail.

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They wear their bandannas well, don’t you think?

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We continued down the trail, which for the first part is actually a gated road that is used only by the people living/working at the forest center. It was extremely well graded and would be ideal for anyone hiking with children.

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A little beyond the two-mile point, we turned right to join up with the Kopetski Trail, crossing over Opal Creek and walking along a more traditional trail.

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Following along the creek was so peaceful. Our hike seemed to coincide with the first blush of fall color and I would excitedly squeal whenever I saw flashes of red and orange amid the green. I am 100% a sucker for autumn leaves.

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The massive moss-covered boulders lounging in the creek were pretty incredible, too.

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Look how clear that water is!

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We reached Opal Pool and right as I prepared to snap some photos, a huge gust of wind whipped through, scattering about a million and one leaves and fir needles. So much for showing you the crystal clarity of the water. I waited patiently for the creek to move the debris along but eventually I realized the poor dogs (and poor Andrew) were wondering if we would ever continue hiking. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it – the water was gorgeous. That, or come see it for yourself!

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Opal Pool

We departed Opal Pool and followed the trail on into Jawbone Flats.

Jawbone Flats

Abandoned automobiles and old cabins dotted the trail along the way – not your standard scenery.

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store at Opal Creek

rental cabin at Opal Creek

The cabin pictured above is one that you can actually rent – pretty cool!

Opal Creek, Oregon

We wandered through the tiny collection of buildings and headed back down the road. We took one final detour back to Sawmill Falls – I told you I loved this spot! I couldn’t resist snapping a few more photos.

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Did I mention that the Opal Creek Wilderness is home to trees that are over 700 years old??? They are basically nothing short of a living history – they have literally stood their ground as time marched on, as the world changed around them. Incredible to think of.

Sawmill Falls at Opal Creek

Overall, it hiking along Opal Creek was a lovely, easy and serene hike that was a nice change-up from our normal hiking destinations. Even at a little over 6 miles, the trail is an easy one to follow, perfect for all ages. I highly recommend it and I can’t wait to revisit it in the summer (when I might be tempted to actually dip my toes in the cool water!)

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