Clackamas River

Start

12pm

Duration

0d 4h 0m

Distance

8.89 miles

Conditions

75°, clear skies, light breeze

Journal

We started out the day intending to hike up McIntyre Ridge to Wildcat Mountain, but encountered the true meaning of “snow line” 5 miles before the trail head. Stymied by sudden deep snow on the road, we changed direction and headed to a lower elevation to try the east end of the Clackamas River Trail which departs at the Indian Henry campground. The trail head, about 23 miles east of Estacada on Hwy224 has room for a dozen cars.

It was a lovely Easter weekend with cloudless skies and unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid 70’s. It was cooler in the forest which was lit with shafts of sunlight.

We passed several waterfalls along the way including Half Caves, where the trail is carved (or blasted) into the rock face behind a slim waterfall, much like Tunnel Falls but on a smaller scale. The trail follows a half-mile long ridge of huge basalt cliffs covered with brilliant emerald green moss and dripping water.

For the most part, the trail winds high up on the south side of the river but never ranges more than a 200 feet elevation gain over four miles. The footing is wonderful— mostly free of rocks and roots and would be an ideal route for trail running. After three miles, we left the path to stop at the Narrows on the Clackamas River for a snack and some sitting-in-the-sun time.

We continued on another mile to Pup Creek, but discovered that the trail up to the falls was on the other side, and there was no safe crossing because of the volume of water. We decided to head back and save the falls for another day. Hikers can also approach Pup Creek Falls from the west, by starting at Fish Creek campground which is 15 miles from Estacada.

We encountered fewer than a dozen hikers, which is surprising for such a gorgeous day. Everyone else must be hiking the Gorge, enjoying the snow on Mt. Hood, or hunting for Easter eggs.

The forest displayed SO many shades of green, moss-like ferns and fern-like moss. We’re fortunate to have seen the range of color now, as it’ll fade to tans and browns by summer. Here’s a short clip.

Gear and supplies

His Gear

  • Gregory Miwok 22 day pack
  • Montrail Mountain Masochist shoes
  • North Face fleece jacket
  • Patagonia Houdini wind shirt
  • Platypus Big Zip SL 3L
  • REI Endeavor pants
  • Stoic merino t-shirt

Her Gear

  • Easton ATR-75 Ion Trekking Poles
  • Icebreaker 150 GT Baselayer Tee
  • Icebreaker 200 Lightweight zip top
  • Montrail Sabino trail shoes

Other Gear

  • First Aid Kit
  • Swiss army knife

Food

  • Cheese and crackers, oranges.

Water

  • 1.5 Liters

2 thoughts on “Clackamas River

  1. I do outdoor photography, and was wanting to know how I could get to the ledge path you were walking on. I think your other positional photo shots are great.
    Thank you, Ken

    • If you’re referring to the featured image at the top of the post, that’s taken from the Clackamas River trail, just West of the Narrows.
      Start from the East side, at the Indian Henry trailhead for a shorter hike (about 3 miles).
      Check out the Portland Hikers trail guide, linked in resources (next to the map).

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