PLAN YOUR TRIP On The Clackamas River
Introducing the Clackamas Water Trail
The Lower Clackamas River is a wonderful resource for boaters, floaters and fishing folk that live in the Portland Metro area. The lower 22 miles from Rivermill Dam (Milo McIver State Park) to the confluence with the Willamette (Clackamette and Dahl parks) has several sections of class I-II+ whitewater and in the summer is a great destination for floaters (tubing, etc.) and boaters alike.
The Clackamas Water Trail encompasses the entire lower river up to the high water line (always be mindful of private property, which is right beyond that high water line), and all adjacent parkland (state, regional, county and local). It can be paddled any time of year, and no permit is required. Some of the parks charge fees for car entry and parking: please pay accordingly and know every penny goes to local park maintenance.
There are seven boat ramps on the river with public access
You need to think ahead about the logistics of how to transport yourself at the end of your trip – called ‘running a shuttle.’ There is currently no professional shuttle service for the Lower Clackamas. Most people travel in groups with two cars and simply drop off one car at the take out location and park the other car at the put-in. Uber and Lyft serve the area and are popular for some groups.
Each of the parks has parking, but don’t be surprised to find some of the smaller areas fill up quickly.
As of now, the only campgrounds on the Lower Clackamas are at Milo McIver state park, Barton County Park, and Clackamette Park.
Boats & Tube Rentals
Check out the local outfitters and guides page and be sure to book ahead on peak weekends.
In general the stretch of river from McIver Park to Barton has some of the larger rapids (class II+), and between Barton Park and the mouth it is mainly swift current and class I-II rapids.
Need more information on where to stay or where to eat check out Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory website https://www.mthoodterritory.com. The Mt. Hood Territory – Clackamas River page also has information for accessing the Upper Clackamas River.
- Like most Oregon Rivers, current on the Clackamas can be swift and the conditions can change quickly. And like all rivers, it must be traveled with care.
- During the summer the river is a lot slower than in the spring, fall and winter, but it still runs 2-4 mph in places and is swift and deep enough to challenge even good swimmers.
- One of the biggest hazards on the lower river is the I-205 & railroad trestle bridge abutments- so watch out for these if you are floating the lower river.
- High Rocks right below the bridges is another popular destination during the hot summer days and plays host to many river rescue assists and even drownings during the summer.
- Read through the Float Safety and Etiquette page and make sure you are ready for a safe trip!
Take a few minutes to review the following pages and make sure you are totally prepared for a fantastic (and safe) journey down the Clackamas Water Trail.
New to the Lower Clackamas or floating down rivers?
The Lower Clackamas during lower summer flows is safely floated or paddled by thousands of people. During the shoulder seasons it is floated by fisherman, rafters, kayakers, and whitewater paddle boarders, and is much riskier than the summer flows (higher, colder).
If you are considering a float, swim or paddle for the first time on the Clackamas, please first answer the following questions:
- Can you self-rescue, or rescue another paddler or swimmer?
- Can you maneuver your boat, tube, or self in [the] current?
- Do you know how to “read the river” so you can recognize and avoid hazards?
- Do you know how to dress appropriately for the water and weather to avoid hypothermia?
- Do you have a shuttle planned (a vehicle at the end of the trip to drive you and your gear back to the beginning)?
If the answer is “No” to any of these, then you should consider taking a lesson or hiring a guide to take you on the river.
If the answer is “Yes,” please take a few minutes to review the other pages and make sure you are totally ready for your trip.