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Milo McIver Riverside Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Fishing on the Clackamas River, Milo McIver State Park (bobcat)
Dog Creek, Milo McIver State Park (bobcat)
Alders on the Rivermill Trail, Milo McIver State Park (bobcat)
Bat barn, Milo McIver State Park (bobcat)
River Mill Dam on the Clackamas River (bobcat)
The Riverside Loop at Milo McIver State Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo



This large state park on the Clackamas River has something for everyone. There are two networks of hiking trails at the north and south ends of the park, both of which take you from the river to the bluffs above. This loop follows hiker and horse trails from a fish hatchery to the self-guided Bat Trail and then drops to Estacada Lake and the River Mill Dam. It will take you away from the busy day-use and camping areas into mixed woodland and patches of coniferous forest. For a loop hike on the other side of Milo McIver State Park, see the Milo McIver Riverbend Loop Hike.

The park is named after Milo K. McIver, who was on the Oregon Highway Commission from 1950 – 1962. While McIver was chair of the commission, Oregon developed more miles of interstate highway than any other state.

Find the Dog Creek Trail at the south end of the parking area at the Riverside Trailhead. This leads into a riverine bottomland with blackberries and horsetails but also cottonwood, cedar, grand fir, and big-leaf maple. You’ll also pass, standing rather forlornly on the right side of the trail, the largest yew tree in Oregon (and the second largest in the U.S.). Where the trail curves to the left, there is access to a popular fishing spot at a bend in the Clackamas River. Follow the trail under cedars to a footbridge over Dog Creek, and then recross the creek on another footbridge. You’ll see the Clackamas Fish Hatchery to your left. Reach the hatchery via a third footbridge. You can stroll around the rearing ponds here; the hatchery raises steelhead and spring chinook.

To continue on trails, take a gravel road on your right as you come into the hatchery. At a junction, go right at a trail sign to begin a big loop on the Rivermill Trail, and head up a sword fern slope under Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, red-cedar, and red alder. Wind up a wide path through salmonberry thickets, and go right at a junction. The trail heads across a flat maple bench to reach a junction near the park road. Keep right here up a short rise, and reach a higher bench dominated by Oregon ash, cottonwood, and maple. Hike along with an ash swale to the left. Reach a high rim forested by cedars, and head right under powerlines. Enter a Douglas-fir stand, and dip into an alder-shaded gully. Get a glimpse down to the Clackamas River from the edge of the bluff. The trail ascends and curves back before making a sharp bend up a slope of alder and maple. You'll pass the hiker-only Vortex Trail, which connects the two parts of the park, coming up from the right (see the Vortex Loop Hike). Pass a horse hitch and a viewing area which affords a vista to the Clackamas River and Mount Hood that is now partially blocked by trees.

The trail swings left from here below the dog off-leash area and skirts this grassy expanse. Cross the driveway that leads to the park office, and pass through Douglas-fir forest before entering ash woods. The Rivermill Trail crosses the park road with the Equestrian Trailhead to your left. At a junction, go right and at the next junction go left to cross a grassy track. You are now on the Milo McIver Bat Trail, a self-guided nature trail. You’ll pass Station #6 on the trail (See the brochure for details) as you traverse an open field infested with blackberries. Bat houses in this field were constructed by Eagle Scouts in 2002. When you pass #5 and reach a junction, take the path to the right up to Station #4, below the Milo McIver Bat Barn. Go right on the grassy track to the interpretive signs, which explain how the barn is now sealed up to serve as a Townsend’s big-eared bat nursery. If you are here after sunset, you may be able to observe the egress of the female bats as they begin their nightly feeding mission.

Walk the grassy track to the other side of the barn and up the slope. Reach the junction with the Rivermill Trail, and proceed downhill next to the park’s southeastern boundary. You’ll pass a series of horse training stations, the first being log stepovers and a rocky “mountain pass”. A hedge of European and Armenian blackberry runs to the right. At the Back-thru Training Station, keep right to pass Bat Trail Station #3. There’s a Christmas tree farm to the right. At a corner, there’s the Suspension Bridge Training Station, and then you’ll walk past a couple of Cavaletti pole arrangements.

At a junction, turn right, and begin descending under a cottonwood, maple, and alder canopy. Cross a footbridge, and take the Estacada Lake Trail leading right. This trail rises below a sword fern bluff and then turns down the slope below a huge Douglas-fir. The path bends left at a pond and joins an old road bed. Go right in a cedar grove, and descend. At the next junction, go right again, and reach the PGE maintenance track (River Lake Road) that runs along the west shore of Estacada Lake. The fence on the left denotes the state park boundary. Keep to the maintenance track until you reach the Estacada Lake Boat Ramp. You can descend to the ADA deck to get an upstream view of the River Mill Dam. A paved trail runs up to a parking area; then follow the road until you reach a pullout, from which a trail heads into a copse of oaks and down to the River Mill Dam Viewpoint. Interpretive signs here give details about the 1911 dam, the last on the Clackamas before its confluence with the Willamette.

From the viewpoint, keep right at all trail junction, and descend into a lovely coniferous forest with a sword fern carpet. Wind along above the Clackamas River. Where the trail splits, go right to the Upper Boat Ramp, and continue from here to walk through the Riverside Day Use Area back to your vehicle.


Restrictions, facilities, etc.

  • $5 day-use fee
  • Dogs on leash
  • Share some trails with horses and mountain bikes
  • Campground, restrooms, picnic areas, boat launches, horse training course, interpretive signs

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker (Bat Trail)
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links

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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.

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