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Phantom Natural Bridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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The Phantom Natural Bridge (bobcat)
Mountain spiraea (Spiraea densiflora) on French Creek Ridge (bobcat)
Cedar Lake (bobcat)
Sketch of route to Phantom Natural Bridge (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: French Creek Ridge TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Phantom Natural Bridge
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,540 feet
  • High Point: 4,535 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer through Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes: can be extended east or west
  • Crowded: No



This hike heads west from the French Creek Ridge Trailhead, making an undulating path along a rugged ridge crowded with features and views. Old growth trees and blooming wildflowers complement the rock formations, the last of which is a fifty-foot high natural arch which frames the montane woodlands. Don’t let the short 4.6 mileage fool you. The trail has a lot of steep up and down in both directions, and as of 2019 more than a third of the route is quite brushy.

Head back to the road from the parking area and go left for about 40 yards before picking up the signed French Creek Ridge Trail #3349. The path rises among huckleberry, bear-grass, Alaska yellow-cedar, and mountain hemlock. Soon it enters a shady forest of old growth Douglas-fir, silver fir, and noble fir. Seasonal seeps foster the lushness of this slope. The trail rises to the ridge crest and then drops off its north side before passing along a talus slope below Dog Tooth Rock. You will rise through a dense thicket of thimbleberry, salmonberry, and goat’s beard before dropping steeply to find yourself on the ridge crest again. At 1.1 miles the path rises below a rocky prominence. A short spur trail leads up to this viewpoint, which offers an excellent vista north over the Opal Creek Wilderness, including Opal Lake, and back to Dog Tooth Rock, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Three-fingered Jack, and the Three Sisters.

From this vantage point, the main trail drops down to a saddle which cradles little Cedar Lake. Here also is the point where the French Creek Ridge Trail ends at its junction with the Elkhorn Ridge Trail, which heads down the north slope of the ridge to FR 2207, whence you can access the Opal Lake Trail 0.3 miles down the road. You will continue steeply up the ridge from Cedar Lake to an open knoll. The trail undulates along this plateau-like crest, which sometimes offers views north to Whetstone Mountain and Mount Hood. From this area, the trail drops steeply down through mountain hemlock and Alaska yellow-cedar to an abandoned road spur (an old trailhead) at two miles, then rises along a ridge blooming with stonecrop and Oregon sunshine. The path loops over to the to the south side of the ridge, and again there are great views of Mount Jefferson and the central Cascades. After the tread reenters forest, you will come to a large fallen tree. From here, a use path leads up the slope on your right to the Phantom Natural Bridge. You can scramble about here although there is no angle that can do the arch justice in a photo, but you can enjoy the view to Opal Lake and the solitude of this rarely-visited place.


You can extend your hiking day by heading east from the trailhead to do the Mount Beachie via French Creek Ridge Hike and/or head down FR 2207 for the Opal Lake Hike.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Battle Ax, OR #524
  • 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
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Willamette Cascades
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L. Sullivan
  • 50 Old-Growth Hikes in the Willamette National Forest by John & Diane Cissel (map)
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris

More Links

Page 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.