Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 253. Take a left and get onto Highway 22 and drive for a little over 22 miles until you come to a blinking light intersection, go left onto North Fork Road. Drive about 15.5 miles and the road will turn from pavement to gravel (note: there is a short gravel section earlier but it quickly returns to pavement). The gravel road now become FR 2209 and you enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. Continue for a little over 5.5 miles (keep left at a split in the road) where the road ends at the trailhead.
The entire trail is a old Jeep road so it’s relatively smooth but dusty. This hike is packed full of things to do and see. About half a mile past the first bridge, on your left is an old mine shaft and not too far past that on your right, just off trail is lots of old mining equipment. Not long after you’ll come to an old shack. Follow the trail behind it and to the right (no signage) down to Sawmill Falls. There’s a little bit of a rock scramble to get down to the water’s edge.
Between the shack and Jawbone Flats you will come across a small waterfall with a rock water slide with an area of calm water that’s good for swimming. There are also a few viewpoints and lots of Huckleberries along the way. Opal Creek Trail meets up with the Jeep road along this stretch. You can take Opal Creek Trail to Opal Pool and then Jawbone Flats, instead of just staying on the Jeep road and going to Jawbone Flats first.
Jawbone Flats is an old mining town that was built between 1927 and 1932. There are currently only 9 permanent residents and it is also an interpretive center. The trail takes you right down the middle of the town and you pass by cabins (some of witch you can rent) and a small store. You continue on, across Battle Axe Creek, and follow the road to the right. You’ll pass old trucks and more equipment. On the left there is a picnic shelter and on the right is a composting toilet (little advice: you’ll need good aim and a strong stomach for this toilet).
About a half mile past the picnic tables you will come to Opal Pool. Take the side trail down a few feet to the bridge where there are many options to hang out and cool off.
Head back out the way you came in.
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation: 380 feet
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: All ages
Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass
Seasons: All but may be closed if there is snow.
Overall: There is so much to see on this hike, it’s one of our all time favorites.