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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

Clackamas River Trail #715

Updated: Apr 19

Clackamas River Trail
Pup Creek Falls

Trail Name: Clackamas River Trail #715

Waterfall Name: Pup Creek Falls

Waterfall Coordinates: 45.14678, -122.10563 Waterfall Elevation: 1290′ Elevation Range: 885′ to 1356′ Distance: 8.5 miles *point to point; Indian Henry TH to Fish Creek TH

Elevation Range: 950' to 1566'

Ascent/Descent: +3934 ft / -4344 ft Trail Type: Point to point

Permits/Fees: Northwest Forest Pass for parking Note: This hike can be done in many different ways. It’s a point to point hike along the Clackamas River past Estacada, OR.

Location: Near Hwy 224 in Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon, U.S.A.

Administration: Mount Hood National Forest

Ranger District: Clackamas River Ranger District Date accessed: 8-11-19 *this date is when I did the whole length of the trail from point to point; I’ve done it too many times to count doing only sections of the trail

UPDATE 2024: This trail is still closed due to the substantial damage to it from the 2020 fires. I'm not very optimistic that this trail will reopen anytime in the near future or at all. The Forest Service website states "CLOSED due to extensive damage, destroyed bridges, and slide areas from the Riverside Fire. Please do not attempt to use this trail, as staff and partners are working hard to make repairs."

I like this trail because it’s so unique. There’s so many different ways I can do it. I can hike through the whole trail point to point or hike in and out from either end. I can go 2 miles, 4 miles, 8.5 miles or even 17 miles. Basically I get to make this trail whatever I want it to be.

I’ve hiked through point to point once which is 8.5 miles. I did it in about 4 hours. (Most of the online sources say it’s 7.5 miles hiking it through point to point, but when I tracked it with my fitbit it recorded 8.5 miles.) That’s the first time I got to see the waterfall. It’s smack dab in the middle of the trail. It’s a little over 4 miles one way from both directions to reach the waterfall which makes it an 8 mile round trip just doing it as an in and out.

I’ve hiked this trail a lot as my training trail. When I do this I hike in from one end so far (usually about 3 or 4 miles round trip) then back out the same direction I went. I’ve done this a lot with both ends of the trail. The side I hike the most is starting from the Fish Creek Trailhead because it’s only 15 minutes away from my house.

When I hiked it through point to point we took a car and dropped it off at the Fish Creek end and then my dad drove us to the Indian Henry end and dropped us off. I think hiking point to point is best done starting at the Indian Henry end. There’s a pretty good down hill section, so coming from the Fish Creek end you’d have to hike all the way up it.

Towards the middle of the trail is a spur trail that goes up to Pup Creek Falls. It’s about 0.2 miles off the main trail (one way). It’s a very well worn path and there is a wood poll that’s right by the trail. It’s easy to spot and pretty hard to miss. So you don’t have to worry about missing the spur to the falls.

I really enjoy hiking each end because of how different they are. The Fish Creek end follows the river and I’m able to see it most of the hike (when I do 3-4 miles round trip). From this end the first part is pretty flat and follows the river then it climbs up a ways. The Indian Henry end starts in the forest and works its way up pretty high along then drops down to the river pretty quickly after about 2 miles. This end is beautiful because there are a couple seasonal, small waterfalls and the forest is incredible. This end doesn’t have as great a view of the river as the other end until it drops down to the river level after 2 miles in.

The waterfall ever since I started training on this trail was sort of an illusive treasure. So when I finally hiked the whole trail through point to point it was really exciting to finally get to see it. It’s a really beautiful waterfall and the moss that coats the rock near it is so vibrant.

I really could go on and on talking about this hike since I’ve hiked the ends so much. The only thing to really note is there are some steep drops, so if you don’t like heights there are a couple areas on the trail where there’s a good drop and only about 2 feet of trail in width.

This trail will always hold a really special place in my heart. It’s what’s given me my life back. At the start of last summer (2019) I decide I wanted to try working up to the point I could maybe hike again. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it, but I wanted to try. I grew up hiking and I always loved it. I truly thrived from it. But after being bedridden from a chronic illness for 2 winters and barely able to move during the summers, hiking seemed like another thing to add to the list of things I’d probably never be able to do again.

After I went to a treatment program in the fall of 2018 I was starting to see some real progress. I could walk without pain and was able to start doing a yoga class once a week. So in June I decided I want to try to get to the point I could hike the whole trail, all 8.5 miles of it. I wanted to do it in a healthy way where I wasn’t paying for it. It was very uncomfortable at first and I felt pretty discouraged because I was only about to start doing about a mile to a mile and a half. But I kept going out 2-3 times a week and just doing what I could do.

I was slowly able to add more distance. By the end of June I was able to go 4 miles without paying for it afterwards. I continued hiking throughout the rest of the summer. The 2nd week of August I decided I wanted to hike the whole trail through since I was headed off to college and I wanted to complete my goal.

A week before I was going to do the hike I went dirt biking with my dad. I wiped out pretty bad and hurt one of my knees. A rock punctured it and it leaked some of the fluid that helps the knee move smoothly. I was limping around that week. I decided to at least try and hike through the whole trail because it was tolerable if I wasn’t using it to pull up my whole body weight (like going up steps). I was able to hike the whole trail, bum knee and all. The more I hiked the less it bothered me. I felt so excited and proud of myself for doing it. It gave me hope in what I can do and gave me hiking back. Since then I’ve kept myself pretty busy hiking 🙂 It’s one of the only things that seems to bring some form of peace to my tormented soul.

Did a 8.5 mile hike today! At the start of the summer I decided I wanted to start hiking and work up to the point I could do a longer distance hike at the end of the summer. It’s been a slow and frustrating process. In the first picture was the first time I reached 3 miles in June which was a big deal for me. And now I’m finally to the point I can do 8.5 miles without paying for it afterwards. The second picture is Pup Falls and the last photo is at the end of the trail when I finished the 8.5 miles.

Just a reminder that you can reach a goal with patience and determination. It doesn’t matter the speed at which you accomplish it, just that you keep taking one step forward. It’s important to listen to your body and learn the difference between pushing yourself and overdoing.

How to get there



Fish Creek Trailhead

Indian Henry Trailhead

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