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Jawbone Flats Hike

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

The road to Jawbone Flats. (Matt Reeder)
Old mining car along the way to Jawbone Flats (cfm)
  • Start point: Opal Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Jawbone Flats
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 6.25 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All, but check conditions in winter first
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

For the shorter three mile hike to Jawbone flats, you will be traveling on a gravel road. The road is used by the residents of Jawbone Flats only, so it is not likely that you will encounter any vehicles.

Although this is not a trail, after visiting here you may consider it one of the most scenic roads you will ever walk upon. You will travel through magnificent old growth, gaze upon the dazzling waters of the Little North Santiam, and view part of the mining history and artifacts of this bygone era. There are several footpaths for you to walk down to the water, a few flat camping areas, and you should be sure to stop at the Merten Mill area to view the old mining equipment and Cascada de los Ninos (or Sawmill Falls?). Just beyond Mertin Mill there is an outhouse and an option of staying on the road to Jawbone Flats or crossing the Little North Santiam River and taking the Mike Kopetski Trail up to meet up with the Opal Creek Trail near Opal Pool. Either way is highly recommended, but the trip is usually done as a clockwise loop.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest: Detroit Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • The gravel road/trail to Jawbone Flats is not wilderness, but every trail leading off of it is, so all normal wilderness rules apply: no groups larger than 12, no bikes, and leave no trace. Dogs must be leashed in Jawbone Flats.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes in Central Oregon , by William L. Sullivan
  • Exploring Oregon's History, by William L. Sullivan
  • 100 Hikes in Oregon by Doug Lorain

More Links


Portland Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.