The Upper Clackamas River from Three Lynx to North Fork is a great 13 mile winter/spring run close to Portland, OR. You'll experience continuous class II/III whitewater with some class IV excitement thrown in. This is among the most popular rafting trips in northern Oregon due to it's proximity to Portland, great whitewater, camping opportunities, and classic Pacific Northwest scenery. Oregon 224 follows the river which makes it easy to scout rapids and to do a shorter run.

Featured Outfitter

River DriftersRiver Drifters (800) 972-0430 offers half day, full day, and multi-day rafting trips throughout Oregon and Washington.

Definitely be careful at Hole in the Wall Rapid (IV) where a river left eddy/whirlpool has trapped many a boater. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to exit this without scrambling over wet rocks and using ropes to line the boat to safety.

There are tons of places you can choose to put-in or take-out. There is river access at Three Lynx, Fish Creek, Carter Falls, Big Eddy, below Toilet Bowl, Memaloose, and more. After Toilet Bow (III+), the river is mostly Class II down to North Fork Reservoir.

Each May, the Clackamas River is the home of the Upper Clackamas River Festival. This is a weekend full of raft and kayak races, gear workshops, fantastic vendors, and spending time with awesome boaters.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: River access at the Sandstone Bridge River Access Point.

Sandstone Bridge River Access Point

Sandstone Bridge River Access Point

Mile 0.2: Pancake Rock (III) comes soon after Sandstone Bridge.

Mile 0.4: Powerhouse Rapid (III+) has a tricky entrance and a rock wall that should be avoided at the bottom. There is a strong eddy at the bottom on the right that can be hard to get out of - especially at higher flows. The Three Lynx power station is just downstream.

Mile 2.1: The Narrows is a beautiful narrow gorge with a Class II+ lead in rapid.

Rowing through the Narrows on the Upper Clackamas River

Rowing through the Narrows on the Upper Clackamas River

Mile 3.1: The Maze (III) is a tricky rapid with a few different challenging options.

A bird's eye view of The Maze on the Clackamas River

A bird's eye view of The Maze on the Clackamas River

Mile 4.2: Roaring River Rapid (III) is a tricky rock garden.

Mile 4.5: The Roaring River enters the Clackamas River from river right. About a mile downstream of the rapid there's a sharp left bend which is the marker for Hole in the Wall (IV).

Mile 5: Hole in the Wall River Access provides an alternate place to put-in or take-out before Hole in the Wall Rapid.

Mile 5.3: Hole in the Wall Rapid (IV) is typically scouted since it has a dangerous eddy/whirlpool on river left. If you get caught in the dangerous eddy there is sometis a ladder that can be used to climb out.

Mile 6.8: Fish Creek River Access is a great place to begin or end your journey to make a shorter trip.

Mile 6.9: Fish Creek Rapid (III-) begins with wave trains and ends with a dogleg to the right.

Mile 7.1: Armstrong (III) has some fun waves and strong eddy lines.

Mile 7.7: Carter Falls (IV-) is a famous rapid just above Carter Bridge. There is a hole in the center which many people miss by taking the left hand line. The hole is the location of the infamous Gate #3 in the annual Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival.

Inflatable Kayakers competing in Carter Falls during the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival

Inflatable Kayakers competing in Carter Falls during the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival

Mile 9: Big Eddy river access is a common take out with a long carry.

Big Eddy on the Clackamas River

Big Eddy on the Clackamas River

Mile 9.1: Rock and Roll (III) is just below Big Eddy.

Mile 9.4: Toilet Bowl (III+) is a series of powerful waves that regularly flip rafts and catarafts. There is mediocre road access (potential take-out) immediately following Toilet Bowl on the right.

Mile 9.9: Bob's Hole (III) is a great kayak playspot at certain flows.

Mile 11.3: Moore Creek Boat Access Site has steep trail from the river to the parking lot. You may continue floating down to Memaloose or North Fork Reservoir.

Written by
Zach Collier