Take an easy riverside walk along towering old-growth forests, a stunning wilderness river and a little mining history on the Opal Creek-Cedar Flats Hike. This trail is located in the Willamette National Forest, and is an easy 6.25 miles round trip with approximately 200 foot elevation gain. It’s close to the town of Detroit, and is open year-round.
This trail offers up a multitude of gems for hikers – including 700-year old trees, abandoned mines and 60-foot high bridges. Travelers can check out the historic Merten Mill, built in 1943, a steam-powered sawmill that logged five of the surrounding acres. The clearing is still home to a steam engine repurposed from the U.S.S. Battleship Oregon.
But the water features are some of this trail’s highlights, including the stunning Cascada de los Ninos (Waterfall of the Children) a 30-foot falls. There’s also the reward of the Opal Pool, with waters that look emerald from a distance, and are as clear as crystal up close. The pool is open to swimmers, and is delightfully cool, even in the summer months.
Directions: From Portland, take Interstate 5 towards Salem, then exit 253 for Highway 22 east toward Detroit. Drive for about 22 miles, and turn left at North Fork Road. The trailhead is at the end of the road, about 20 miles.
Parking permits are $5 for a day, or one can obtain a Northwest Forest Pass.