Opal Creek Wilderness

Opal Creek Wilderness ~ Little North Fork Santiam River

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. 


Image of Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area Image of Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area Image of Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area Image of Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area Image of Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Area impacted by Beachie Creek Fire. Beachie Creek and Lionshead Fires closure areas.
Permit Info: Wilderness Self-Issue Permit required for both day use and overnight stays from June 15 through October 15. Free permits are self-issued at the trailhead.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: April through October, snow dependent
Restrictions: Special regulations are in place to help protect this area and preserve the experience for you and for future visitors including:
Closest Towns: Detroit, OR
Water: Always carry water or a way to purify water
Passes: Some trailheads require a recreation pass. Check our Recreation Passes & Permits page for details
Information Center: Detroit Ranger Station

General Information


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.)

General Notes:

Special considerations need to be taken before you begin your wilderness excursion. Always carry a detailed, topographic map when you head out into the backcountry and remember, you can't count on cell phone coverage in remote forest areas.

The following will help you plan a safe trip:
Visiting the Wilderness
Know Before You Go
Leave No Trace
Wilderness.net: Maps and other important wilderness information

Close to:


Tightly packed cars and resulting congestion can prevent emergency vehicle access; please park only in designated spots.

Parking Restrictions

Forest Road 2209

  • Parking allowed only along the south shoulder within ¼ mile of the Opal Creek Trailhead and at the designated trailhead parking areas for Henline Falls, Henline Mountain and Nasty Rock Trailheads. 
  • 15 minute parking limit at the visitor information kiosk at the 2209/2207 road junction.

Forest Road 2207

  • No parking along Road 2207 between the junction with Road 2209 and the Shady Cove Bridge.
  • No parking along the south side of Road 2207 between Shady Cove Bridge and the eastern Opal Creek SRA boundary. Parking on the north shoulder allowed. 
  • Access into existing dispersed or undeveloped campsites open for parking, camping and day use.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:


Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

Horse Riding

Recreation areas with activity Horse Riding:

Viewing Scenery

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Scenery:

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities



  Area/Length : 
20,454 acres

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
1600 feet - 4600 feet