An hour from downtown Portland the Wild and Scenic Clackamas River is a boaters paradise with fun continuous class II-IV whitewater, easy river access and great campgrounds. 

The Wild and Scenic Clackamas River above the North Fork Reservoir is a great destination for paddlers and only about an hour drive from downtown Portland. This popular 13.5 mile section of river lies within the Mt. Hood National Forest and offers continuous class II-III boating with a little class IV action sprinkled in.  There are many boater access sites located along Oregon State Route 224 as well as camping options for those wishing to make a weekend out of the trip and get a couple laps in.

The float starts off from just above the Sandstone Bridge where there is a small pull off and trail leading to the river with just enough area to get rigged.  It can be quite busy here at times so make sure to follow proper etiquette when unloading your gear.  Once under way the first major drop you'll encounter is Powerhouse Rapid (III+). This rapid is located just above the Three Lynx Powerhouse operated by Portland General Electric.  

From there the river continues with some fun class II action before coming to the  Narrows (III) where the river is confined by basalt cliffs into a narrow gorge .  Below the Narrows you'll navigate some fun boulder patches before the next significant rapid Roaring River Rapid (III).  

About a mile  further downstream you'll reach the Hole in the Wall access site on river right which is just upstream from Hole in the Wall Rapid (III-IV) where there river makes a sharp left along the highway.  Hole in the Wall rapid is a large drop where all the water is forced into the face of a large basalt cliff.  It is notorious for its recirculating hole or whirlpool on the left side which has trapped boaters.  Caution should always be exercised in this area due to the extreme hazard.

Shortly after you'll come to the Fish Creek Boat Slide another alternative put-in if you are looking to do a shorter trip.  There is also a great campground here that can be reserved online at recreation.gov.  The eddy located at this alternate put-in is also a great lunch spot as there is room for many boaters to tie off in the calm water.

A couple miles further downstream you'll come to the Carter Falls (IV), which is is just upstream from the Carter Bridge.  From Carter bridge you'll float past some more class II rapids before coming to Rock N Roll (II+) and the last significant rapid Toilet Bowl(III+).  Toilet Bowl forms large hydraulics at higher flows and should be run with caution.  A short distance further around the bend you'll come to Bob's Hole which is a great place to try surfing your boat.

After Bob's Hole you'll pass Moore Creek boater access which is an alternate take-out or continue a couple miles further through some class II water and you'll reach the take out at the Memaloose weight station along Highway 224.  

Overall the Upper Clackamas is a great location for intermediate to advanced paddlers.  Additionally those that are just getting into the sport can tackle some of the  shorter less intense sections or hook up with one of the many rafting outfitters that take commercial trips through this beautiful section of river.   

Useful Links:

USGS Riverflow Data

Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permits 

Mt. Hood Forest Service Information

Pack List

  • Whitewater Raft, Cataraft, or Kayak
  • Life Jacket
  • Helmet
  • Wet Suit/Dry Suit
  • Splash Jacket
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Activities Canoeing, Chillin, Photography, Rafting, Kayaking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Autumn, Winter
Features
Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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