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Pup Creek Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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Pup Creek Falls (bobcat)
River and cliffs, Clackamas River Trail (bobcat)
Double-trunked cedar, Clackamas River Trail (bobcat)
Steppingstone Creek, Clackamas River Trail (bobcat)
The route of the Clackamas River Trail #715 to Pup Creek Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Fish Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Pup Creek Falls
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 7.8 miles round-trip
  • High point: 1,330 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1695 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year except for short periods of winter snow
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak

Contents

Hike Description

Pup Creek Falls is one of the few notable waterfalls in the Clackamas River area that is accessible by trail. This popular hike begins at the Fish Creek Trailhead, where you'll need a Northwest Forest Pass, and then undulates from high steep slopes down to river level and back up the slope again. You'll see river rafters and kayakers in the spring and summer, and massive old-growth Douglas-firs and some stately cedars appear at regular intervals. There are a couple of spots where the trail seems to slide away every year, so take care in these areas. Your destination is a two-tiered, 240-foot waterfall that gushes most profusely in the spring but remains photogenic all year.

Cross the road, and begin the hike on the Clackamas River Trail #715. The trail heads along an old road bed in an avenue of cedars before passing into mossy Douglas-fir/hemlock woods with sword fern and salal. The path drops slightly and continues above the Clackamas River. Enter the area of the September 2002 Bowl Burn. Cross a creek as the trail levels by the river at a mossy basalt bench. You'll see basalt cliffs up to the right. Head into a gully, and rise several hundred feet above the river to hike along a steep slope. The trail then makes two switchbacks down, in an area where poison oak overhangs the trail, and drops to a campsite among old-growth Douglas-firs below mossy cliffs. There are views across the river to the ballast banks below Highway 224. The trail rises past a zip line on a bank above the river. Cross a rockslide gully, and then turn in on an unstable slope to pass below a trickling waterfall. The path now drops in unburned woods to an old-growth cedar grove. The route passes through this lush grove, which has its own campsite. Behind it, there’s a narrow gorge with a two-tier waterfall at its head.

Make two switchbacks up from this bottomland before the trail levels high above the river again. Across the valley, you can see the Roaring River entering the Clackamas. Then the trail drops in younger woods and crosses Steppingstone Creek on, well, stepping stones. There’s a small waterfall here, too. Continue below cliffs, and see the Sunstrip Campground across the river. Next, enter a power line corridor, and reach a pylon and then the signpost that designates the side trail to Pup Creek Falls. This trail heads into mossy woods and switchbacks up a ravine to a view of the two-tiered falls with drops of 205 feet and 35 feet. You can drop down to a better viewpoint for a full view: this last part of the approach was recently made much safer by a Trailkeepers of Oregon work party. After admiring Pup Creek Falls' delicate drops, return to the trailhead the way you came.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Hiking Mount Hood National Forest by Marcia Sinclair
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Best Old-growth Forest Hikes: Washington & Oregon Cascades by John & Diane Cissel
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill

More Links


Contributors

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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.