Clackamas + Memaloose Falls

Mount Hood National Forest

Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon

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Clackamas + Memaloose Falls

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  • View of the trailhead.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Smooth and simple hiking early in the adventure.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Descending into the canyon using ropes (you don't have to bring you own).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Descending into the canyon using ropes (you don't have to bring you own).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • A log-jammed river along the route.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • A log-jammed river along the route.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Water flowing along the rocky riverbed.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Contributor Shane Kucera entering one of many tunnels along the route.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Stair-step moss (Hylocomium splendens).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Lush wilderness all along the hike.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Ruins from waterworks efforts of the past.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Swirling water following the hiking path just above Memaloose Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Lush wilderness all along the hike.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • An old log bridge to cross the river (yes, you can cross here).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • The river below the log bridge.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Waterworks tunnels just above Lower South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Lower South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Lower South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • There is an alternate route into that cave. South Fork Clackamas Falls in the distance.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Exploring the tunnels.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Exploring the tunnels. - Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Exploring the tunnels.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • South Fork Clackamas Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Memaloose Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Memaloose Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Memaloose Creek below Memaloose Falls.- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
  • Alder (Alnus).- Clackamas + Memaloose Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Multiple waterfalls. Riverside camp sites. Solitude.
Cons: 
Trails can be muddy with loose footing
Alerts: 
As of May 20, 2017, NF-45 is closed due to fire and mud slide damage from Memaloose Bridge up to MP 3.5 with no immediate plans to reopen the road. Trailhead can still be accessed by walking 0.9 miles up NF-45 from Memaloose Bridge (bridge over Clackamas River).
Region:
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, OR
Congestion: 
Low
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
1,380 ft (421 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
600 ft (183 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
Yes
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Partly cloudy until evening.
74°F
50°

Mon

Clear throughout the day.
86°F
56°

Tue

Partly cloudy overnight.
83°F
61°

Wed

Drizzle overnight.
72°F
56°

Thu

Light rain in the morning.
67°F
51°

Fri

Clear throughout the day.
78°F
49°

Sat

Dry throughout the day.
90°F
50°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The South Fork Clackamas and Memaloose Falls hike offers more than enough special features to offset any trouble you may have finding the trailhead. Once you navigate NF-45 to the destination, you will be welcomed by rope-assisted descents and climbs, waterfalls, and the ruins of waterworks efforts that include an old log bridge and tunnels up to 100 yards long. 

This adventure begins with a leisurely path through the woods that may lull you into thinking this is a simple 3-mile, there-and-back hike. However, after a short distance into the hike you'll reach a steep hillside that will likely be muddy. Luckily, you can navigate up and down the steep area using ropes that past hikers have tied to sturdy trees along the route. You'll find a photographer's paradise once descend into the Memaloose Creek canyon, including a log-jammed river, an amazing amount of moss, three separate waterfalls that have drops of up to 120 feet, and the relics along the route from past tunneling and waterworks development efforts. 

These efforts began in 1915, when the South Fork Water Board started routing water from Memaloose Creek and South Fork Clackamas to Oregon City and West Linn. The project was expanded years later with help from the Works Progress Administration, and the main intake was moved upstream above the falls in 1939. The project involved miles of pipe and the construction of the tunnels you see today.

The area is remote, and you'll likely find that to be a good thing. While you won't find restrooms or a charging station for your phone, you will certainly find secluded campsites, innumerable angles for waterfall photos, and lots of peace and quiet. 

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(48 within a 30 mile radius)

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(166 within a 30 mile radius)

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