A Short Trek into Opal Creek Wilderness: Henline Falls

Henline Falls
Gold was first found in the Opal Creek Watershed in 1859. The legacy of the ensuing gold rush left many hillsides up and down the narrow valleys dotted with mine shafts.There is little left of the Silver King mining complex. With the exception of a 1,700 foot long shaft right next to the falls. Over the years silver, lead, zinc, and gold were pulled out of the mines near Henline Falls. Thankfully nearly all of the signs of mining have long been washed away.

 Trailhead for Henline Falls

Entering the Opal Creek Wilderness

Start of the Henline Falls trail
The trailhead for Henline Falls is near the boundary of the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area, which was established in 1998. Despite 20 years of legal battles and direct action, some areas in what would later become the Opal Creek Wilderness had already been cut. Much of the trail to Henline Falls follows an old logging road and passes through relatively young patches of Douglas-fir. Though there some very old western hemlock and Douglas-fir that can be found along the way. As you make your way up the road that is being quickly reclaimed, keep left at all junctions until you reach the falls a short .8 miles in. 

Nearing Henline Falls

Remnants of mining near Henline Falls
Just before you reach the beautiful blue-green pool that Henline Falls cascades into you will have to climb over what appears to be the remnants of a power generation station. Keep an eye out for sharp pieces of re-bar and other various chunks of metal. If it hasn't been too rainy you can make your way about 30 feet or so into a mine shaft before it's blocked by a gate. There was an immense number of spiders lining the walls of the mine, so watch your hands. Though a relatively long drive from Eugene, Henline Falls allows for a low elevation introduction to the beauty that Opal Creek Wilderness has to offer. With the exception of very low elevation snow the trail remains accessible year round.

Directions from Eugene: Follow I-5 north for 61 miles, turn right onto Highway 22, follow for 23 miles, turn left onto North Fork Road, follow for 17.25 miles to a well marked pull-out on the left.

Hike Distance: 1.6 miles round trip

Hike Type: Out and Back 

Elevation Gain: 400 Feet

Trailhead Elevation: 1,600 Feet

Usage: Light in Winter

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fees: None


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