DONE IN A DAY

Walk through his­tory—and spice up your camp­fire sto­ries—on these three hikes through aban­doned com­mu­ni­ties.

Backpacker - - Contents - By Timothy Mal­colm

GHOST TOWN HIKES

Walk through his­tory on these three spooky trips.

JAWBONE FLATS OPAL CREEK WILDER­NESS, OR

There was once gold in them hills at Jawbone Flats, a low-el­e­va­tion for­est about 90 miles south­east of Portland. Min­ers ar­rived with the Gold Rush, and a com­mer­cial mining op­er­a­tion even­tu­ally con­trolled the area through the 1950s. When Jawbone Flats was aban­doned, a decades-long own­er­ship bat­tle took place. The non­profit Opal Creek An­cient For­est Cen­ter ul­ti­mately won out, lock­ing down a spe­cial-use per­mit to op­er­ate and main­tain the area as a Scenic Recre­ation Area in 1996. Visit Jawbone Flats on a 6.2mile out-and-back along the Opal Creek Trail. Pass through a for­est of Dou­glas fir, cedar, and hem­lock en route to Merten Mill, a 1943 relic that’s home to a col­lapsed work shed, old steam engine, and scat­tered mining equip­ment. Con­tinue to Jawbone Flats at mile 3.1, where rust­ing cars still sit in the park­ing lot. Contact opal­creek.org

DOODLETOWN BEAR MOUN­TAIN STATE PARK, NY

When the Dutch set­tled in the Hud­son Val­ley in the 1600s, they founded sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties among the hard­wood forests. Some 300 years later, only a hand­ful still phys­i­cally ex­ist, in­clud­ing Doodletown, a mining set­tle­ment that was aban­doned in the 1960s. Later, it was in­cluded within the bound­aries of Bear Moun­tain State Park, mak­ing it a great set­ting for both ghost sto­ries and fall hikes. Take a short walk on the 1777E Trail from the park­ing area to reach the ghost town, then ex­plore it on a 5-mile loop link­ing the aban­doned Bri­dle Path and Pleas­ant Val­ley Road. Along the way, poke around an old church and late 19th-cen­tury homes be­fore cir­cling back through a for­est of beech, white ash, and moun­tain lau­rel (peak fo­liage in midOc­to­ber). Contact nyn­jtc.org

RUSH BUF­FALO NA­TIONAL RIVER, AR

If the name sounds a bit on the nose, it is: Dur­ing the late 19th cen­tury, min­ers hauled butt to the town of Rush, which of­fered some of the best real es­tate to hunt for Ozark gold. Later, the city be­came the cen­ter of the state’s zinc ex­trac­tion and was home to 10 sep­a­rate com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing 13 mines. But af­ter World War I, de­clin­ing zinc prices led to the end of Rush’s in­dus­try, and the town was aban­doned. Now part of Buf­falo Na­tional River, Rush is ac­ces­si­ble via a 3-mile out-and-back. To do it, start along the Morn­ing Star In­ter­pre­tive Loop, which passes remnants from a 1920s mill of the same name. Near mile .2, peel east onto the Mine Level Trail, par­al­lel­ing Rush Creek past former mining sites. (The ru­ins are fenced off for safety.) Turn around at the small gravel bar at Rush Land­ing. Contact nps.gov/buff

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