Clackamas River Trail Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Fish Creek Trailhead
- End point: Indian Henry Trailhead
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Shuttle
- Distance: 7.8 miles one way
- Elevation gain: 450 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: Accessible year round, but may have snow in winter
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: Yes
- Crowded: No
This riverside trail is an ideal shuttle hike. The two trailheads are 7 miles apart on the same well maintained road. You don't even need another car, do it as a bike shuttle, hiking uphill and coasting back down viewing the route you just took on the opposite side of the river. The biking portion can be done by even the most casual city biker on the paved Clackamas River Road.
The Clackamas River Trail is designated as #715 by the USFS. Start at the lower elevation Fish Creek Trailhead, which is a popular put in for kayakers. The trail starts across from the parking lot and heads upstream. You will travel through a burn area and be fairly close to the river for the first few miles, but the slope you are traversing is steep, so river access is limited. The hike is mostly forested, with the river flowing towards you on your left, and the steep walls of the Clackamas canyon on your right. No expansive views on this hike, but you will be passing some big trees, lovely mossy grottoes, and during the wet season- many seasonal waterfalls as you travel.
After 3 1/2 miles, you'll come to an open area that has been cut and trimmed for powerline access. Enjoy the small meadows and sunshine here, and turn right at the junction for the Pup Creek Falls side trail. This short trail takes you back into a deep forest to a thundering waterfall that rivals those found in the Columbia River Gorge.
Return to the main trail and continue on another mile and a half, where you will find yourself high above the Clackamas at a viewpoint looking down to an interesting spot in the river called The Narrows. It is not the narrowness of the river that makes this strange, but the odd basalt hummocks in the river. Continue down the trail and turn left before the next creek crossing to get out to the short cliffs above the narrows and take a look at these strange rock formations that must be a challenge to kayakers. There is a nice camping area in the woods near the trail at The Narrows.
From here, you will be entering one of the sections of the Clackamas Wilderness, created under the Mt. Hood Wilderness Act of 2009. After hiking along in mossy woods, you will pass under the Half Cave, an eroded overhang on the cliff that shelters a portion of the trail. Too bad there isn't a waterfall here!
Continue another mile and half, through some big trees, and cross a lovely footbridge to find yourself at the upper Indian Henry Trailhead.
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Guidebooks that cover this hike
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
- 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland by Paul Gerald
- Description of #715 by the Trail Advocates
- CFM (creator)