The Molalla River Recreation Corridor is a local recreation mecca that is perfect for exploring for many reasons, including new campground and picnic sites, hiking and biking and even horseback riding trails along a gorgeous scenic river byway that is less than 90 minutes from Portland.

Jahn Hoover with Into the Wild Equine Adventures agrees that watching the changing seasons from a saddle on a horseback ride is tough to beat. “Well, we don’t have the summer heat – and that can be a blessing because it’s a lot more comfortable for riding. Plus, the maple leaves are just beautiful; more golden and even orange than you usually see. This is probably my favorite time of year.”

Hoover explores Oregon’s back-country from a saddle every chance he gets, and was recently joined by a group of friends at the Hardy Creek Trailhead for one his new trail discoveries along the Molalla River Recreation Corridor. “It’s a 25-mile-long trail that forms a big loop,” noted Hoover. “My friends are always interested in longer rides that are a bit more scenic. As you can see, the river right next to the trail makes the experience wonderful.”

Hoover was right! The Molalla River offers majestic views along a breathtaking waterway that is less than 90 minutes from Portland. The Molalla River is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and it has been proposed for “Wild and Scenic River” designation and protection.

Adam Milnor, Recreation Planner for the BLM, said that new picnic and campground sites were completed this year and have turned into a pleasant surprise for visitors. Milnor said that the Cedar Grove Campground has become a favorite for tent campers looking for something different. “A more natural getaway is what we all want when we go camping. We don’t want a lot of pavement, so our design was to integrate the camp sites into a beautiful stand of cedar trees-plus, offer visitors a view to the river just beyond.”

Nearby, the Three Bears Campground and Picnic Area offers easy river access for fishing or strolling; plus, Milnor pointed out stunning examples of ancient geology that are common features of the Molalla River and are worth a pause to consider. “The Molalla is unique – it’s is an undammed river that flows out of the Cascade Mountains and the geology reflects a record of the old Cascades through a number of lava flows atop one another. The river has cut away the ancient basalt to reveal them through time and they are beautiful to see.”

Although the official camping season has ended, Milnor wants more folks to explore the Molalla River year-round. “I hope folks will pick that one nice day in December or January – that one sunny day we always get and come up here to explore the Molalla River. It has a little bit of everything when it comes to the Oregon outdoors in a small, easy to reach package.”

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

In this Grant’s Getaway

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  1. carole says…

    I live just a few miles south of Molalla and didn’t know about this place. It’s truly amazing what you can miss right in your own back yard.

    Written on November 3rd, 2013 / Flag this Comment
  2. Deana Gray says…

    I visit the Molalla River Recreation Corridor several times every year. It is my favorite retreat from the hustle and bustle of suburban life. The beauty of nature and wildlife continues to amaze me every time I travel there. Camping at many areas of the corridor designated campsites, mostly for 14 day stays, or just for the weekend. Love it all.

    Written on May 20th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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