Cool and Moist: A Day Hike to Opal Pool

Sawmill Falls Along Opal Creek
The Opal Creek area was the subject of a nearly 20 year battle between corporate interests, including the Forest Service(FS) and conservationists. The Detroit FS Ranger Dave Alexander even vowed he would cut Opal Creek, thankfully the conservationists prevailed. Short history of the protection of Opal Creek.

The forests that line Opal Creek and Battle Ax Creek are only a sampling of what use to cover much of the western Cascade foothills. Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedar, and Western Hemlock tower over the landscape. It's common place to find trees over 200 feet tall and over 500 years old.

Large Douglas-fir Along FR 2209

My favorite day hike in the area is starting at the 'end' of Forest Road 2209.  After passing a couple of old mine shafts you will reach Merten Sawmill. It now serves as a camping area for backpackers. There are some pretty cool looking things to check out, including Sawmill Falls.

Shortly after Merten Sawmill you can cross Opal Creek on a large footbridge. 

Footbridge Across Opal Creek
This trail will take you along Opal Creek until you reach Opal Pool. During Spring and Winter this trail will have a few spots that are pretty marshy, so wear your boots or be prepared to have soaked feet. 

The Trail Becomes a Creek.

The Bridge Towards Jawbone Flats

   Once you reach the bridge and Opal Pool you can continue upstream if you would like to see a few small waterfalls. Passed these waterfalls, there was once a bridge that crossed Opal Creek and lead you to a grove of massive Cedars, known as Cedar Flats but it appears to have been washed out. 

Small Waterfall Along Opal Creek

What Remains Of The Bridge To Cedar Flats
Jawbone Flats is definitely an interesting place, there are a lot of cool things to check out as you walk through 'town'. Their water wheel is one of my favorite things there. 

Entering Jawbone Flats

As you walk through Jawbone Flats please respect the people who call it home and do not approach any of the buildings marked as private residences. The walk back to the trailhead along FR 2209 is nearly flat, making for a quick last leg of the hike.

Hike Distance: 8.1 miles

Hike Type: Partial Loop 

Elevation Gain/ Loss: Appox. 200 feet 

Usage: Moderate to Heavy, there can be large groups around Opal Pool. 13 cars at the trailhead.  

Difficulty: 2 out of 5 because of the rocky trail just after Merten Sawmill

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