Raphaela H.
Portland, OR
Joined July 2016
Camping on the Clackamas

The campsites are a little closer to the road than I'd prefer, but the access to the river is great and floating is fun at this whole stretch of the river.

River sites are great, but they're limited

I wanted to add videos of the river sites to my other review for this site, but the website wouldn't let me - anyway, the hike has 3 river sites about 1 mile in from the trailhead and they are beautiful and right at the bend of the river. After there, there's not much camping unless you were to go down the PCT further than we had wanted to (we just wanted to go to the viewpoint, about 10 miles further). But for camping, stop after the first mile (or you may end up camping in the trail..).

First to Review
Great Summer Floating Site

This is one of the better campgrounds along the Clackamas River in the Mt Hood Forest (and there are lots of campgrounds on this stretch of the river). All the campgrounds are pretty close to the road, but this one is near the end of the section of campgrounds, so it has fewer cars passing by. It is down a little from the road, too, which helps. The sites are pretty private but vary widely site to site. Unfortunately, the Oregon Parks site doesn't show pictures, so we picked a site blindly and it ended up being tiny (although we had 3 tents and 6 people). We made it work, but it wasn't ideal. The access to the river, and the fast current and little rapids do make it ideal, though. You can do the bit of river just by the site (which ends in a swimming hole near the camp host's site), or continue on down some small rapids and walk a trail back about a mile to the camp. It's the ideal campground for summer floating!

Camping near Swimming Hole

Who doesn't love a beautiful swimming hole? This campground is near the Dougan Creek swimming holes/water falls and is a great place to cool off in summer. It is a little downstream from the most popular swimming area and had semi-private campgrounds and creek access. Close to Portland, it's a nice summer escape. Crowds do gather on the weekends, and there used to be more secluded creek spots that are now off-limits, but as far as swimming holes go, this campground is still close to one of the top.

Several Group Sites at Creek

There are several pretty large, primitive, river-side group sites throughout the woods in the Yacolt Burn Forest near the Pacific Crest Trail there. We drove through on a Saturday and found multiple open. It looks like all you need is your Washington Discover Pass and to be the first to claim it. Just past Stevenson, this area is pretty undiscovered considering how close it is to Portland.

Beginner Backpacking close to Portland

We wanted a beginner backpacking trip (10 to 12 miles round trip) close to town - this one is a pretty hike with views at the end (theoretically, we saw fog). We passed up the best camping spots because they were too early in the trail (at the creek) and ended up setting up camp in wider part of the trail (about 3 miles in, after night had fallen). The other hikers were friendly, though, and didn't seem to mind us making camp pretty much anywhere. In our situation the camping was definitely not the main event! We came for the hike and slept along the way. The camp spots at the creek would have been quite nice for camping itself though.

Available when everything else filled up

We were so happy to find a last minute spot here after all of Lost Lake filled up while we were en route one Friday evening. There is however a reason why it was not also full. It is close to the freeway and the sites are not at all secluded. We were happy to stumble upon it in a pinch, though.

Nice lake if you have someone that can get you on base

We didn't camp here but we did come for a day trip at the lake. I had a going-away party here and we had a secluded picnic spot and a private piece of the lake to put in inner-tubes. Great experience, but you have to know someone that can get you there :)

Easy access to the Gorge, but not a destination in itself

It's not very secluded and fairly close to the freeway. It still puts you in the Gorge, though, and is preferable to Viento, which is the next one in the area! We were happy to stumble upon it.

Great Beachcombing

I much prefer the Oregon Coast to the Washington Coast for dramatic views, but this site has great accessibility to the beach and is often much less crowded. There's great beach-combing and you can walk out on a spit of land that you don't find elsewhere.

Great Introductory Backpacking Trip

The beauty of the pools at Opal Creek are pretty well known, but it also makes for a nice introductory backpacking experience that ends up being about 4.5 miles each way/day (9 total). The trail starts as a road along the creek and turns into a lollipop hike. One side (that continues as a gravel road) goes to an old mining town, Jawbone Flats, which is now a nature/history learning center with some mining relics. Past a meadow and about a half mile further are the Opal Pools, also popular for taking a dip. The other side is a trail through the woods. We did the woods side the first day and, after camping at Cedar Flats (a mile or so beyond the pools), returned along the road. The majority of the camping spots are about a mile past the pools, although the trail gets a little rougher for this mile. The trail, village, and pools are incredibly popular and very busy, but the backpacking trail beyond was much more what you associate with backpacking. There are no bathrooms or potable water, and fires were not allowed while we were there.

Kayak to Private Island Camping

This campground is on a tiny island in the Puget Sound. Rent kayaks (or bring your own) at Boston Harbor in Olympia. It's a short trip to the island, which is only accessible by boat. I was worried, with only four camping spots, that we wouldn't get one, but we ended up being the only people on the island. Boston Harbor rents both doubles and singles and this was an easy and un-intimidating introduction to kayaking. Not your typical camping trip!

Convenient and Inexpensive Beach Trip

This campsite is on the North Oregon Coast and an easy drive from Portland. The sites are packed tightly and there isn't much privacy from your neighbors. It has convenient amenities and a short walk to the main attraction, the beach. Compared to paying for a hotel at the beach, the is a great option.

Crooked River Campsite at Cove Palisades

Though we came with only a tent, due to the type of year, we stayed in the E loop which is not on the Peninsula and is designed more for RV's. We did get a site with a great view of the river, though (at the West side of the loop), and since it was early in the year, there were few other campers. We hear gets very busy other times of the year, though. There were bathrooms with showers and there was a playground in part of the loop. There is a nice hike in the Peninsula with views of the river and the surrounding mountains. Driving up to the trailhead took us by the the Deschutes Loop of the campground (which looked cuter with only tent sites, but didn't have nearly the view we had). The Cove Palisades Resort is close by and rents boats and kayaks for the lake. For early Spring, it was a great option and felt like a vacation from the wetter parts of the state. Despite the warmth during the day, it did still get very chilly at night though, so come prepared. We drove through Warm Springs Reservation to get here from Portland, and there is a Native American history museum en route that is worth a trip!

When it's rainy everywhere else in the Northwest...

We went here when another camping trip was rained out in spring. We looked on the map and it was the only dry spot we could find within a few hours of Portland. It was a nice last minute trip, and we easily found a spot without a reservation. The sites are priced by popularity, but upon arrival, we actually preferred one in the second tier instead of the priciest (although we would have paid the extra $5 had we loved one of those instead). There was a short walk from our site through the blackberries to the riverfront, a great place to enjoy a morning coffee. There were clean bathrooms and showers and within the park there is a protected beach swimming area. It looked like there was also a large group sent site off to the west of where we were staying. There are lots of touristy things nearby, like visiting the Maryhill Winery, the beautiful Maryhill Museum, and the Maryhill Stonehenge (all with stunning views). Due to its location, it was quite windy, so don't forget your stakes!

Lost Lake (F Loop, Walk-In Site)

This campground is great. We had a walk-in site on the F Loop. The site had separate tiers for lake access, tent pads, and the eating/fire area. But the those spots to fill up quickly, so reserve well ahead of time. There were outhouses for toilets and pay showers at the lodge. We went on a sweltering summer day, and the forest and lake keep this nice and cool. The lake itself is beautiful, and the lodge rents rowboats, canoes, kayaks and the like, but you don't have to put up with motorboats on the lake. It is very popular among fishers, so I would swim from a boat instead of from the shore to avoid stray fishhooks. Although it looks longer on the map, the drive in from I84 is much easier than trying to take the passes from Sandy. Bring a map of the campground with you. We arrived after-hours and had to look around for our loop in the dark. Signage for the F Loop was confusing and there's no service, so a site map would have been very handy!