One good thing about the gorge turning into well done toast is that it's forced me to go else-ware for stuff and we are finding some neat things that we may not have gotten to otherwise.
Case in point: The Clackamas River Trail. It's pretty okay!
Reach Pup Creek Falls, which is halfway through the CRT
We would do the first half to Pup Creek and then head back the same way. No loop options here.
The Clackamas River Trail is simply put, a trail that follows a section of the Clackamas River. I tried picking something that would be a good winter month hike, for when things are overcast and a little bit wet. The Clack seemed flat enough and simple enough. Just walk along the river to a waterfall, and head back the same way. There are 4 more miles of the CRT past Pup Creek Falls, but there is no loop option. It's just a long walk on the river.
Turns out the CRT is on the West Cascades Scenic Byway, and it earned that name for sure. As soon as you get through po-dunk Estacada highway 224 crests a mountain and the scenery kicks into high gear. The Clack cut a big canyon and the sheer rock walls on both sides of the massive mountain river are very easy on the eyes. There is also a lot of patchwork death, as a fire clearly hit this area some point in recent history. The pockets of dead grey trees lining the hills made me wonder if this is how the gorge will look for the next decade or more.
The views are great and there are tons of places to pull off and admire the scenery. We didn't take any, because we were running a bit late and with the sun going down at 4pm is we didn't want to get stranded in the dark. I didn't take many pictures overall.
The trail is pretty reasonable. The first half-mile or so is quite flat and nice. You don't get a view immediately, but once you do, it mostly stays there with you. The trail is surprisingly precarious past the first mile. After the first flat mile, the trail climbs a reasonably tall hill (The worst hill of the hike) and then the next 3 miles are basically just up and down. You'll be near water-level, then you'll be 100-200 feet above it, and then back down. The trail isn't very wide and a couple sections actually would probably kill you if you fell, which made this "family friendly" hike seem weirdly dangerous. Overall though it's a very enjoyable walk through the woods with occasional river views. The Clack is very big and wide and fast rolling.
|The first "beach" on the Clack|
|The mighty Clack|
|The easy trail to Pup Creek|
|I call this "Annoyed Husband waits for wife to be ready for picture"|
Then it was a turn around and a nice slightly wet walk back. The rain started right as we reached the car.
8 Miles, roughly 1000ft of elevation gain. The elevation is only tiring on that first hill, and is relatively unnoticeable over the rest as it never climbs for long before going back down. It's an easy hike and great for winter, though it's no show-stopper must do. At some point later this year we may drive to the far trailhead and hike the second half.