Opal Creek Oregon – Explore Ancient Forests

9 03 2014
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Here I am at the entrance to Jawbone Flats. A few hardy souls make this their year-round home.

We recently spent a weekend at the cabins at Opal Creek Oregon! Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center and its Jawbone Flats Cabins sit inside the Opal Creek Wilderness, the largest old-growth wilderness in Oregon.

It’s about a two hour drive from Portland. The village houses the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, plus cabins in which visitors may lodge. All around lies the incredible ancient wilderness with its myriad trails, crystal pure creeks, and countless examples of edible plants such as mushrooms.

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The village is a museum of early 20th Century mining equipment. The irony that is Opal Creek Wilderness is that an extractive industry saved the old growth forest, while rampaging logging was going all around it. It was privately owned mining operation and never logged. Later, a political movement launched a campaign to preserve the area and in 1996 Congress established the Opal Creek Wilderness. The village is “off the grid,” meaning all electricity is locally produced by a small hydroelectric generator harnessing the creek’s power.

To get to Jawbone Flats, you must hike two miles from a parking area. You need to bring in everything you need to eat. Kinda. There is a twice daily shuttle that can bring up your stuff from the parking area. It’s a really pretty hike by Opal Creek. Along the way you pass by some dilapidated mining equipment.

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We reached Jawbone Flats and found our cabin. It’s really nice! You can probably house 10 people in the cabin. Very comfy, and the rear of the cabin has a deck overlooking the creek. Then we settled into our rooms.

Next, we headed out onto some trails! Opal Creek Wilderness is truly a jewel! The old growth evergreens are unmatched, and the creek is so pristine.

ImageIt’s such a beautiful area. I highly recommend it. If you go in the summer, the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center has a menu of classes and trips to choose from, each guided by highly knowledgeable staff intimately familiar with the area.

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After our hike, we headed back to the cabin for happy hour, a wok cooking session, and playing board games! Lots of time spent chop chopping ingredients for the wok, and then delicious productions coming off the stove!

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After dinner, it’s board game time! If you want a quiet getaway not far from Portland, and want to witness a forest ecosystem unchanged since ancient times, Opal Creek is worth a visit.