With a prime location on the banks of the Clackamas River, at the western edge of the Mt. Hood National Forest, Estacada is an ideal spot for recreation lovers all year-round. The compact city’s riverfront location has made it popular among swimmers, whitewater rafters and anglers for generations, but even those who prefer staying dry won’t find a lack of things to do — from cycling through the woods to foraging for wild mushrooms. In the past year, some of Estacada’s natural areas were impacted by local wildfires — so always check locations to make sure they are open and free of hazards before you go. If you’d like to donate to the wildfire-impacted community, there are several ways to help. Here are a few ways to play outdoors in Estacada any time of year.
Toss a Disc
Estacada is home to two of the region’s most popular disc golf courses: one in Milo McIver State Park and the other across the way in Timber Park. Timber Park’s course is the oldest 18-and-up course in the state, featuring 21 holes surrounded by a mix of open parkland and towering evergreens. Milo McIver’s Riverbend Disc Golf Course offers 27 holes in total with three potential layouts. It’s among the higher-ranking courses in the United States and is frequently used for tournaments. Rent or purchase a set of discs at the park office.
Forage for Your Supper
Estacada and the Mt. Hood National Forest provide an excellent environment for all sorts of mushroom species to grow, including edible types such as boletes and chanterelles, and foraging is a popular activity in the region — there’s even an Estacada Fungus Association. Just make sure you go with an experienced mushroom hunter, as some species are poisonous. If you’re more fond of fruit, Estacada and the surrounding countryside are also home to plenty of farms offering seasonal U-pick fruit (blueberries are particularly popular), plus farm stands selling fresh produce, eggs and flowers. In the winter, the Estacada area offers plenty of Christmas tree farms, where you can bring the family to choose a precut tree or cut down your own.
Step Back in Time
Whether you love history, need a rest from all of the outdoor adventure or just happen to be visiting on a rainy day, Philip Foster Farm is a local attraction you won’t want to miss, particularly if you have kids in tow. Established in the mid-19th century by one of the first Oregon Trail pioneers, the farm now focuses on teaching local kids about what life was like in Oregon’s pioneer days through field trips, summer camps and public tours featuring actors dressed to the nines in period homesteader garb. The farm also hosts a variety of seasonal events throughout the year, including a haunted-farm experience and a cider squeeze in the autumn, holiday celebrations (complete with Santa visits) in the winter, and an annual summer garden party that focuses on the contributions made by women pioneers.
Families interested in Oregon Trail history should check out a special film, “Barlow Road: Historic Oregon Trail,” made to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail in 2021. See a trailer of the film and rent the full film for $10.
Get Out on the Water
Estacada’s Clackamas River location makes it ideal for boating, fishing and swimming alike. Whitewater rafting on the Clackamas is particularly popular, with rapids classed between II and III-plus, particularly as you paddle down the river and into the Mt. Hood National Forest. (Note: Check with the ranger’s office for any fire-related closures before you go.) Blue Sky Rafting offers whitewater-rafting trips for beginner and more experienced rafters alike, though plenty of advanced rafters take trips independently — just don’t forget your personal flotation device (included in a guided tour). While the river’s powerful rapids are certainly a big draw for thrill-seekers, even swimmers, anglers and paddleboarders in search of calmer waters won’t find a lack of options. Milo McIver State Park sits on both Estacada Lake and the Clackamas River and offers direct access to the water via three different boat ramps. Estacada Lake also has an ADA-accessible fishing dock. (Note: Estacada Lake is temporarily closed due to high water levels.)
The park is also home to the Clackamas Fish Hatchery, a great spot to learn about chinook salmon and winter steelhead. On the opposite side of Estacada Lake, Timber Park offers three additional nonmotorized boat launches. Clackamas River Outfitters offers kayak and paddleboard rentals at both Timber and Milo McIver as well as tours and paddling lessons. If you just want to take a cooling dip, consider heading out to quieter Metzler Park, about 5 miles south of town, where you’ll find fishing opportunities and a small swimming hole right along the aptly named Clear Creek. Alternatively, head about 6 miles north of Estacada to Eagle Fern Park for fishing and swimming in Eagle Creek.
With its beautiful scenery and mix of flat and rolling roads and pathways, Estacada and its surroundings are ideal for cycling. Experienced riders may bite off a chunk of the 71-mile Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway, a challenging route that follows the rugged and beautiful Clackamas and Breitenbush rivers from Estacada to Detroit. (Check wildfire-related hazards and closures before you go.)
Popular areas for more casual, family-friendly riding include Faraday Road, which offers 3.5 miles of paved cycling and walking trails, and the Cazadero Trail, which links the Springwater Corridor in the city of Boring to the erstwhile railway station of Cazadero, just outside of Estacada. For a longer jaunt, the Eagle Fern Double Loop offers two 15-mile loops that weave through forest and countryside. Both loops start and end at Eagle Fern Park, just north of town.
While many people opt to bring their own bicycle or rent one in Portland, you can find rentals of bikes and gear as well as knowledgeable staff at Otto’s Ski & Mt. Bike in the nearby city of Sandy.
Explore the Trails
Estacada is a trail-lovers’ paradise, with hiking routes for all abilities. Old Baldy Trail traverses through the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness to Tumala Mountain and Twin Springs Campground, best accessed between June and October. The trail is a total of 6.2 miles out and back, with considerable elevation — but you’ll be rewarded with several amazing viewpoints along the way. Know your limits and be prepared with sturdy shoes, plenty of water, a trail map and more Ten Essentials. Many other local trails are temporarily closed due to damage from the Riverbend Fire, but keep checking with the Clackamas River Ranger District and look to plan your trip for next season. One of those is the 3.9-mile Memaloose Lake Trail, a lovely less-crowded out-and-back route to the lake, with dogs allowed on leash. The iconic Clackamas River Trail — through old-growth forest with access to Pup Creek Waterfall as well as picnicking, camping and fishing — is also temporarily closed, so add it to your bucket list for future hikes.