Tucked alongside the Clackamas River, Milo McIver state park offers a wealth of outdoor activities, reaching beyond hiking. The 950+ acre park has horse trails, a boat ramp for those who want to kayak or canoe, a fishing dock, a fish hatchery if you feel like learning more about salmon, and a disc golf course. There are also individual and group campsites.
Location: Just across the river from Estacada. A 40 minute drive from Canby.
Distance: Variable. I did the Riverbend Loop which is about 5.3 miles. It has a nice mix of forest and open area, plus the added benefit of walking alongside the river for a while. It’s mostly downhill to start, so be ready for some steep hills at the end. Another popular loop trail takes you 6.1 miles around the east side of the park.
Pros: The park is big enough and remote enough to have that wilderness feel, without having to drive hours and hours into the actual wilderness. Since there are several trail options, you can tailor your hike to your (or your less athletic friend/child/grandma’s) ability level. It’s also a nice place to hang out even if you don’t want to hike, with picnic areas and other activity options. And if you needed more motivation, Fearless Brewing Company and other great taprooms and restaurants are just 6 miles away for a post-hike reward.
Cons: You have to pay $5 since it’s a state park. I wasn’t a huge fan of the part of the trail that goes through the disc golf course since a lot of people were playing and I felt rude getting in their way (and had to be on high alert to avoid getting smacked by a Frisbee). Also, the trails criss-cross a lot and aren’t very intuitive. Make sure to take a picture of the map before setting out for reference. You’ll need it.
Random fact: The Vortex Trail (part of the Riverbend Loop) takes you past a field where the similarly named Vortex I music festival was held back in 1970. Then-Gov. Tom McCall used taxpayer money to help sponsor the concert, hoping it would draw potential protesters away from Portland during a scheduled appearance by President Richard Nixon. Nixon ended up canceling, but the show went on. Apparently there was a lot of pot and public nudity. That’s confirmed by my grandparents, who allegedly went to people watch. #themoreyouknow