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Stony Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Beginning hikers should check out our Basic Hiking Information page.
End of the trail at Stony Creek (bobcat)
Sawmill Falls (Cascada de los Ninos), Little North Santiam River (bobcat)
Old-growth forest, Stony Creek Trail (bobcat)
On the Stony Creek Trail (bobcat)
Miner's detritus, Black Prince Cabin, Stony Creek (bobcat)
The route to Stony Creek (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Opal Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Black Prince Cabin Site
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • High point: 2,920 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1745 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All, but check conditions in winter first
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Not on the Stony Creek Trail

Contents

Hike Description

The Little North Santiam Mining District, prospected from the end of the 19th century until the 1970s, was during these times dotted with numerous mining claims and was drilled with over 170 adits, many of which can still be found today. Most prospecting was done from creek beds, where miners could see the seams of ore-rich rock exposed by erosion. Copper, zinc, gold, silver, and lead were the metals most sought after here. By the end of the 20th century, the mining activity had come to a halt and, in 1996, most of the area was included in the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area and Wilderness. The trail described here was created by miners and leads through the contiguous claims of Princess and King No. 4 to the Black Prince Claim, where one can find the rotted remains of a century-old cabin and the collapsed portal of an adit. Note that the trail is maintained only by volunteers and maintenance is sporadic: expect to do some scrambling over downed trees and pushing through overhanging brush.

For the first part of this hike, you will be traveling on a gravel road. The track is used by the residents and guests of Jawbone Flats only, so it is not likely that you will encounter any vehicles. Head past the gate at the trailhead and walk along the road in an ancient forest of Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, and western hemlock. Salal and Oregon grape form the understory as the road drops. Look down the slope for massive Douglas-firs several hundred years old. Cross the Gold Creek Bridge and view the cascades and pool in the chasm below. The road rises to the Whetstone Mountain-Jawbone Flats Trail Junction, the former trail an old jeep track, FR 2209-330, leading up to the left.

The road bed drops and passes along the recently redesigned “half-bridges” in a steep-sided canyon, the Little North Santiam rushing way below. Pass an old adit as the road levels and then rises. At the top of the rise, a spur leads right to an overlook. Descend and the trail levels to cross several small creeks. A road turnout leads right into the area where equipment from the Merten Mill lies abandoned. Look for relics of the mining era, such as a boiler and smelter, and walk past a picnic table. Before a decrepit wooden shed, take a short trail that leads to the river and the Cascada de los Ninos (or Sawmill Falls). Back on the main road, the tread rises. There are more cascades on the Little North Santiam to the right. Pass an outhouse. The road levels again, and a sign indicates the Kopetski-Jawbone Flats Trail Junction.

The Kopetski Trail #4187 leads right across a long footbridge over the alder-shaded turquoise pools of the Little North Santiam River. Thirty yards after crossing the bridge, reach the Kopetski-Stony Creek Trail Junction and head up the sometimes very brushy Stony Creek Trail. This trail is not regularly maintained, so you can also expect downed trees.

The trail gradually rises up an old road bed in mossy woods of Douglas-fir and hemlock. Hemlock saplings crowd in the road bed. A creek runs to the left. At a small clearing and the end of the road bed, go left for Stony Creek. Cross the creek and hike up a steep bank into quiet woods with an understory of wild rose, yew, rhododendron and hemlock saplings. Keep up and then drop above the steep-sided creek. The trail is narrow here and hugs the side of the mossy, bouldery ravine. At a confluence of streams, there is a partially-visible waterfall. Cross a creek and clamber over more blowdown. Down across the creek, you may be able to make out an adit of the Black Prince Mine going into the slope. The trail drops down to Stony Creek: you will be crawling under and over moss-covered fallen trees to get to the creek itself. The stream rushes by mossy boulders in a pristine setting, but it was a busier place during the prospecting years. You may see a faint trail leading up the opposite bank. You can use this to make a mossy scramble up to the Black Prince Cabin Site. An iron stove top, bricks, an old bucket, etc., are what remain of a miner’s secluded den. Just downstream, you can find a mine adit and a small waterfall plunging between the mossy boulders.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • The following maps do not show the Stony Creek Trail and are useful for general topography only:
  • 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.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

More Links


Contributors

Oregon 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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.