Opal Creek is one of the very few old growth forests that never allowed logging. Some of the trees are large enough to fit 15-20 children around. Walking through the ancient forest you can feel the difference between it and groomed and logged forest.
It is reported that the first people to call Opal Creek home were local Native Americans; ancient artifacts have proven their existence. In fact, there is a location near the lodges that is considered sacred ground.
The neatest part of walking the trails is seeing the old mine shafts and rusting mining equipment. Gold and other precious metals were found in the area in the mid 1900s. When the mining eventually stopped, their company turned over their land including Jawbone Flats and a piece of old growth forest to those who continue today to preserve the area.
Flora and fauna
A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the gate area and most areas along the forest service roads in the Opal Creek area. The passes are available at many vendors, but not at the site, so be sure to get your pass before you get there. Passes can be daily or seasonal.
As with many recreational areas that are an abundant amount of hiking trails. The diversity of Opal Creek makes each one unique and can appeal to a variety of ecological tastes.
The trail from the Gate to Jawbone Flats is the most popular trail is a of moderate intensity, but can be adapted to meet anyone's comfort. The loop winds through the deep old growth forest and massive trees that have withstood years of drought and fire. On the trail you also venture through the old mining areas and can view the abandoned shafts, outhouses, lodges, and equipment. The trail also hosts some gorgeous waterfalls. The highlight of the hike and where it is a great time to settle in for some lunch is when you reach the crystal clear water hole in the river. The water is bone chilling cold, but so beautiful. The trail eventually leads to the lodge and the cabins at the old mining town of Jawbone Flats.
Opal Creek has many different options when it comes to lodging, because it is settled in an old mining town there is authentic rustic lodging that will fit the needs of many differnt sized groups. There is also an option to have meals available for you at only $6.00 per day. All of the meals are vegetarian and very delicious.
The main lodge is rented only to large groups and on a per night basis. But the ground floor is open to anyone and as a pool table, library, and comfortable seating.
The two newest lodges were completed less than 10 years ago and are equipped with all the amenities that one would need. All of the logs were logged by horses within Opal Creek and each house has a wonderful back patio and spacious rooms.
The site also houses three other alternative cabins that include the old mining office, a former mining cabin, and original meal hall. The mining office is perhaps best because it has a perfect view of a very romantic waterfall.