hike: Clackamas River Trail
Shuttle hike on the Clackamas River Trail: Fish Creek to Indian Henry trailhead
Distance: 7.8 miles 1,300 ft gain
Passes: Northwest Forest Pass required at the Fish Creek trailhead
The Clackamas River Trail has two trailheads, and while I’ve done short hikes from both of them before, I’ve never hiked the entire trail. With two cars, it’s possible to hike the entire trail as a shuttle hike – ideal for seeing everything this trail has to offer. We dropped off one car at the Indian Henry trailhead and drove back to the Fish Creek trailhead to start our hike.
While there’s only 300 feet of difference between the elevation of the two trailheads, the trail goes up and down over and over again, for a total elevation gain of 1,300 feet. Blackened tree trunks in the first half-mile of the hike are all that’s left to indicate a wildfire that burned the area in September 2002. Small tributary streams cascade down the hillsides and across the trail, while massive walls of basalt covered with mosses and ferns loom above the trail.
Pup Creek Falls – a major highlight of this hike – is accessed via a short side trail. Recent erosion has made it a bit more difficult to get a closer look at the falls, but there is a good view near the end of the side trail. Back on the main trail, turn right and continue a short distance to the crossing of Pup Creek. In the winter when the water levels are higher, Pup Creek is fairly wide with fast moving water. Large rocks are strategically placed in a row all the way across, but they can be slippery so take caution when crossing. Continue on the main trail through a long open section below power lines, then pass a couple of campsites before reaching the river’s edge at The Narrows – a great spot to stop for a long snack break. From here to the Indian Henry trailhead, highlights include numerous small waterfalls trickling down the mossy walls, Half Cave (a curved section of trail cut out of the rock), and a large footbridge over a ravine. For more details on this hike, view the hike description on OregonHikers.org.