Sunday, May 24, 2009

So You Want To Hike Opal Creek Huh !

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Opal Creek located in the Elkhorn Valley recreation area is one of the most beautiful river hikes you will ever experience. Opal creek feeds the Little North Santiam River that is equally clear and pristine however opal creeks color is unmatched and truly lives up to its namesake. I suppose you could use emerald to describe the watercolor as well.

If you want to experience the hike for yourself here is a link for great driving directions. I guess the only downside of this hike is the 2.2-mile hike down a gravel-logging road to reach the actual trailhead. This hike is suitable for small children and is classified as easy with an elevation gain of only 200 feet. I would caution parents to be very watchful on a couple of bridge crossings and on section of trail where there is no rail to protect from a substantial fall.

The area attracts extreme kayakers as well as backpackers. There are several wonderful campsites along the river although campfires a prohibited. If you have come for merely a day hike you may opt for the 7.5 mile loop that will take you through Merten mill and Jawbone Flats an old gold and iron mill that operated from 1929-1932. This loop will also take you to Opal Pool, another attraction that will take you’re breath away. If your feeling energetic you can continue past Opal Pool another 1.5 miles which will take you past Cedar flats (ancient Red Cedars) and several small water features. Happy Hiking !!

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