The Clackamas River Trail is the most popular trail in the Clackamas and Roaring River Wilderness Areas. It’s about 7.5 miles long, with an extra quarter-mile trail to Pup Creek Falls at about the halfway point. So the out and back is about 16 miles with over 3000′ of ascent. Fish Creek Trailhead is the most common starting point. Indian Henry is the trailhead at the other end of the trail. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at either trailhead.
Like many wilderness river trails, it is cut into steep bluffs that are chock full of rock, roots, and encroaching shrubs. The views, old-growth giants, and relatively mild elevation profile make it the area’s classic hiking and running trail. The trail experiences all seasons, including fall foliage offering spectacular orange and reds from oak trees and vine maples.
The trail does have some erosion and runs along with steep basalt cliffs, so it’s not for the runner who has a fear of falling. Those susceptible to poison oak need to be careful as it is common along the trail.
One of the highlights of the trail is the Narrows, an area on the Clackamas River where the river flows through a tight basalt cavern. On hot days, this is a popular place to take a dip in the river.
The trail mostly has gradually ascents among large cedars, Douglas-firs, and hemlocks. Sword ferns share the soil with bright green moss and Oregon Grape. Small creeks and waterfalls cross the trail several times on the route. Look for the Roaring River’s entrance into the Clackamas a couple of miles from the Fish Creek trailhead.
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