Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

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HikingisaMustDo
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by HikingisaMustDo » November 1st, 2010, 11:08 pm

I may be doing a return trip to see the flow of the falls this Thursday at 10am. Since it's been raining so heavily lately, I figure that the water must be higher than it was 3 months ago. It's supposed to be dry, come Wednesday into all day Thursday, which makes for good hiking weather. Anyone interested in joining me? This is just an idea right now, I'll know for sure by Wednesday.
-Aaron

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mattisnotfrench
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by mattisnotfrench » November 2nd, 2010, 7:34 am

I might be interested...I've been wanting to get down there for a long time.
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by mattisnotfrench » January 30th, 2011, 5:34 pm

I made an attempt at this today and failed. Got cliffed out going down, then attempted to bushwhack along the main Clackamas and got to about 0.2 mile from the outlet. I realize now that I should have continued to the end of the spur road, instead of going down from where I could see the end. There was some sort of camp at the end of the spur road. Weird.

Moral of the story:

1) Don't start at 11AM
2) Don't take a large backpack - I got caught on a number of trees and rocks
3) If you plan on bushwhacking along the river, it's very doable so long as you don't mind taking maybe 45-50 minutes more each way on this approach - and so long as you can climb over the number of mossy boulders you'll encounter that are directly over the river.
4) Don't start at 11AM
5) Don't worry about there being some sort of camp and head down too early.

I did at least see the top of Memaloose Falls from about 60 feet up the slope, which means I definitely did not go the right way. The slopes in here are very, very crumbly.

Beautiful, beautiful area though.
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BrianEdwards
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by BrianEdwards » January 30th, 2011, 7:18 pm

Matt, bummer you didn't succeed. Here's how:

Hike to the End of the spur road, yes clear to the end where people camp. On the right hand side of the clearing at the end is a very obvious user path, if you're unsure you're looking at a path, it's not it. The trail is very well worn. Follow it downhill to a very crumbly section. Follow the crumbly section all the way to the creek, angling Slightly right as you go (you'll see what I mean). When you get to within maybe 10-20 feet of touching the creek, follow the path downstream, and stay BELOW the cliffs ahead, the tunnel is directly in sight. If you got to the top of Memaloose on the giant rock outcropping, the tunnel was beneath your feet. As far as starting at 11am, I've started at 2pm and been out in the daylight in the winter, it's a fairly straight forward bushwack once you find that tunnel.

Another tip, on the way back up, when you exit the Memaloose tunnel, stay straight for maybe 50 feet, then take off up the hill and angle hard left up the hill. Go until you hit the old growth on the spine of the ridge above the tunnel. It is MUCH easier walking then climbing that crumbly water-saturated slope you slid down on the way in. Next time you want to go, let me know and i can show ya. I've shown a total of 8 different people the area, and we made it to all the falls every time.

-Brian
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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mattisnotfrench
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by mattisnotfrench » January 30th, 2011, 11:39 pm

Now I know that my instincts were right the first time we went down. The long crumbly slope was an absolute pain (so, so wet and unstable) without a worn trail in. We overcorrected downstream and got cliffed out. We could even see the top of the upper tier of Memaloose Falls, though it isn't really reflected in this photo.
South Fork 002.JPG
Bushwhacking downriver was neat and mostly pretty easy. The river had great color today:
South Fork 006.JPG
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BrianEdwards
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by BrianEdwards » January 30th, 2011, 11:44 pm

In that first picture, the tunnel was literally beneath your feet, but not viewable from up there. The tree to the left of the hiker would be right above the entrance.
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by mattisnotfrench » January 31st, 2011, 12:06 am

BrianEdwards wrote:In that first picture, the tunnel was literally beneath your feet, but not viewable from up there. The tree to the left of the hiker would be right above the entrance.
Wow, now I'm kicking myself. We could then, thus see the roadbed. I thought that was it, too but the slope right there was also really rough and not knowing for sure, we didn't want to get into an unfortunate situation.

Now I know. Thanks!
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by BrianEdwards » February 2nd, 2011, 4:05 am

Yeah, my very first attempt back in 2006, I ended up right where you guys did. That rocky ridge is kinda sureal, with both tiers of the waterfall making all that noise around you, and the cliffs keeping all of it in. I didn't try again 'til 2010.

In March, I'm heading back down in there with some new camera gear to finally get some good shots. In all the times I've went, I only took a camera once. Always just had a cell phone :? Anyone wanting to see the area for themselves, PM me
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by BrianEdwards » February 8th, 2011, 9:29 pm

Headed back out to the falls today with PH's member HBOC (Dustin, great meeting you!), and my new camera. The weather was almost perfect for a hike, and the river level was just right. We got to the spur road about noon and headed out. Something that was different this time, TONS of trash by the parking area. I'm talking a truckload of trash was dumped off at the first dirt berm in the closed road. It'll take days to pick up. We headed down the road to it's end, and found a huge structure made of logs and black plastic. Once we turned down the trail towards the creek, all was better.

Going down the trail was it's usual slip & slide, but we only fell a couple times, and nobody got hurt. The tunnel came into sight

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We continued through the tunnel, and after about 100 feet past the exit, we turned left through the first clearing on the edge of the road, and headed down the steep slope towards Memaloose Falls. After more slipping and sliding on the loose rocky slope, we hit the creek, and the falls.

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After getting our shots, we headed back up to the road. This is one of the least-fun parts of the whole trip, as the slope is all loose gravel and rock. Once we reached the road, we headed north towards the other falls. Along the way, you can see the remains of the old water works frequently.

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Further on, Memaloose Creek makes a nice bend around the end of the ridge separating it from the South Fork Clackamas River drainage.

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Just ahead, there's more water-works remains

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Sitting in the brush were a couple of very old tires, and with no other road anywhere near this spot, I wonder if they were here back when the road was abandoned 45+ years ago. Idk. Montgomery Ward has been gone for a while, and these tires are white walls! The DOT date only read '53' or '5E', I'm not sure what that is in old tire terms.

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After that, soon enough we were at the bridge over the South Fork. I didn't snap any shots of the washed-out side of the bridge, but I did take some shots looking back across.

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The confluence of Memaloose Creek (left) and the South Fork Clackamas River (right) is visible just upstream of the bridge

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From here we took a left at the fork in the road on the other side of the bridge, and headed towards 120ft Clackamas Falls. The old road is in fairly good shape for being abandoned for so long.

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Soon we were at the rotten log bridge, and could glimpse Clackamas Falls and the next tunnel.

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We took the trail to the right that leads down to the side stream, and back around to the road. Very slippery footing here. Once back on the road, it was a matter of walking through the tunnels.

After the first long tunnel, theres a brief gap, and another short tunnel to walk through

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After walking through the short tunnel, Clackamas Falls was in full sight, as was the last tunnel (the 300 ft long one).

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From here, we headed down to the river. The mist was atrocious, so taking photos down at the riverbed was out of the question pretty much, But I managed one without mist on the lens.

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Dustin crossed the river to get out of the mist, and try a different angle.

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After getting our fill, we headed back up to the tunnels, and back north towards the lower falls. After getting back around the rotten log bridge, I realized I forgot to shoot the fallen log that was once part of the bridge.

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Further down the road, we passed the bridge, and kept going on the other fork of the road. The road is still in fairly good shape, only minor obstacles.

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After another 1/4 mile, the lower falls and the twin tunnels come into sight simultaneously.

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Twin Tunnels

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Maybe 50 Feet outside the second of the twin tunnels, theres an obvious scramble path down to the river. Around the corner is a view of the falls

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I love these falls almost more than the big one, it just has more photo qualities to it. After getting our fill once more, we headed back up to the road, and back the way we came. Along the way back, I snapped a few more shots of the old road.

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Once back across the old bridge, we headed back up Memaloose Creek on the old road.

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After passing the old tires, the road starts its accent to the tunnel.

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After a good 20-30 minutes of hard hiking uphill over logs, and through multiple old washouts, we could see the tunnel.

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I decided to try something different from here. Instead of following the old road and climbing back up the slippery gravel, we headed up an obvious path that took off up the creek side of the tunnel entrance. You can see in this shot, the trail on the left side of the tunnel taking off up the hill, and angling almost back over the entrance.

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Here's looking back down at the road from the boot path. The tunnel entrance is on the left, old road straight, and Memaloose Creek on the right.

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Here's the view of the creek as we climbed the ridge, the top hidden tier of Memaloose Falls is the shelf in the creek on the very right of the picture.

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Here's looking over the top of that hidden tier of the falls. That little bit of water you can see above the top of the shelf is the big pool way down below.

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And one more image of the creek before I put my camera away for good. The amphitheater of the upper tier is obvious in this shot.

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We trudged straight up the spine of the ridge, mainly following a game trail, until we hit the spur road again, and took a left back to the truck. Whew! Got to the truck at 4:38 pm, and we weren't in a hurry today, taking lots of photos along the way. Sure is a magical place down in that forsaken canyon, I look forward to going back again someday.
Last edited by BrianEdwards on February 9th, 2011, 1:27 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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pyles_94
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Re: Memaloose Falls and South Fork Clackamas River

Post by pyles_94 » February 8th, 2011, 10:55 pm

cool. I'm really looking forward to the next years worth of your reports now complete with wide angle shots and such! I'll have to get the brian edwards tour of these at some point.
Jamey Pyles

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