Access: Opal Creek Wilderness can be reached via Oregon State Highway 22 and Marion County North Fork Road. The county road becomes Forest Road 2209 at the forest boundary. This road parallels the boundary of the western portion of the wilderness.
Three trailheads, Henline Falls-Ogle Mountain, Henline Mountain and Nasty Rock trails are along the road. The eastern or “interior” portion of the wilderness is reached from the gated end of road 2209.
Public vehicle traffic is not permitted beyond the gate but foot, and horse travel is allowed. This former mining access route continues to parallel the wilderness boundary and trailheads for Whetstone Mountain, Mike Kopetski-Opal Creek and Battle Axe Creek trails are located along the route. (Bicycles are allowed on the road beyond the gate into Jawbone Flats but are prohibited on trails off of the road.)
HIKING, HORSEBACK RIDING
The 20,454 acre Opal Creek Wilderness features steep and rugged forested hillsides. The eastern portion of the area encompasses the headwaters of two major creeks (Battle Axe Creek and Opal Creek) which join to become the Little North Santiam River. The western portion of the area is dominated by two prominent peaks, Whetstone and Henline mountains, which offer scenic vantage points and were once used as fire lookout sites.
The area is forested with Douglas fir, Pacific silver fir and Western hemlock plant associations. Western red cedar and Pacific yew occur in wet lowlands while higher ridges have some Engelmann spruce and mountain hemlock. Common hardwoods include big leaf maple and red alder. Understory vegetation includes huckleberry, vine maple and rhododendron. Various bird species, deer, black bear, cougars and elk use the wilderness area in the summer months.
There are eight trails totaling 36 miles. These are remnants of the early day prospecting and fire access routes. Most are single destination, in-out trails with little opportunity for loop travel. Many end at old lookout sites which provide some views. Other trails traverse both the Opal Creek Wilderness and Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area.
Because of the remoteness and steep topography, very little overnight camping occurs.
Special regulations are in place to help protect this area and preserve the experience for you and for future visitors. Please practice Leave No Trace Principles during your visit. Garbage service is not provided so please pack-it-in pack-it-out.