At first glance, Estacada is your stereotypical Oregon oasis: tree-covered parks, a gushing scenic river, a local craft brewery, a weekly farmers market and strangers who quickly become friends. But this woodsy city, just 30 miles southeast of Portland, is anything but ordinary. Known as the “gateway to the Clackamas River,” Estacada is a one-stop shop for wilderness, culture and community. It’s a historic city ready to be re-discovered.
Technically Estacada is more than a century old, yet, you wouldn’t know it by the innovation churning out of this town. You can spend hours inspired in The Spiral Gallery, Mossy Rock Gifts or The Rag Refinery.
On the culinary side, Fearless Brewing is winning awards for its ales, ranging from creamy peaches and cream to a traditional Scottish and a seasonal barley wine. (They say the magic is in the water.) Around the corner, Clackamas River Growlers brings in beers and ciders from all over the Pacific Northwest for a diverse 20-plus tap list. Tastebuds will find comfort at mainstays like Harmony Baking Company, The Mason Jar and Cazadero Inn. Or you can stimulate all the senses at Bloom Cafe & Flower Shop, perhaps the prettiest coffee shop you’ll ever see.
The city’s prime location on the Clackamas River beckons for outdoor adventure. Local guides make it easy to explore the designated Wild and Scenic sections, with whitewater rafting, fishing and shuttle services for tubing. Rent paddleboards and kayaks from Clackamas River Outfitters; or better yet, join one of their twilight lake tours.
Hike through all seasons in the Mt. Hood National Forest and the Roaring River Wilderness, both a stone’s throw away. Or stick close to town at one of the parks that hug Estacada’s borders. In town, Wade Creek Community Park is best known for its large skate park. To the north, Metzler Park is home to hiking trails, creek fishing, sports courts and 75 campsites. Meanwhile Milo McIver State Park could take weeks to explore, with Estacada Lake, Clackamas Fish Hatchery, a 27-hole disc golf course, hiking and horseback trails, robust campsites and many places to dip in a canoe. (Fun fact: the state park famously hosted Vortex I, a successful government-sponsored music festival in 1970.) And after invigorating outdoor play, a warm soak seems fitting at Austin Hot Springs (32 miles southeast) or Bagby Hot Springs (39 miles south).
Estacada residents don’t shy away from fun gatherings. Score local produce and crafts at the Estacada Farmers Market, located at Wade Creek House Antiques every Saturday, May through September. Bonus points if you visit when it coincides with the Outdoor Vintage Markets twice a summer. Every May the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival throws a giant river party featuring races, games, clinics and evening entertainment. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen catboat volleyball. Then it’s a thrill every July 4th when the city hosts the Estacada Timber Festival, a lively logging competition that showcases participants’ veritable sawing, pole climbing, axe throwing and logging skills. (This isn’t your typical Independence Day celebration.) The fourth weekend of July draws crowds for the annual Estacada Summer Celebration, a free art and music festival that began as a tribute to local murals and evolved into a big downtown party. In September, the Cascading Rivers Ride pays tribute to the revered Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway, a 69.7-mile route that runs from Estacada to Detroit Lake, and features four ride variations for all skill levels. (Yes, even you can do it!)