This trail can easily be broken into smaller sections, but the segment from the Rainbow to Riverside campgrounds has a lot of appeal, including easy access for camping, parking or shuttles. For this hike we walked upstream. The trail leaves from the southwest end of Rainbow Campground and immediately leads you into the mature and diverse forest that will keep you company for your entire hike along the river. Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar predominate, but where they thin out you will find hardwoods that add fall color to the hike in September and October. Look for plenty of fungal varieties in the dense undergrowth.
Two creeks enter the Clackamas on this stretch of trail: Tag is first, and Mag comes in upriver. Throughout this hike you will be treated to varying perspectives of the river. Some will be broad and sweeping variety, and others much more intimate. One of the positive distinctions of this trail is that the path undulates regularly between the bank and the hills above the water, so the view changes frequently. Also, though the difference in elevation between the two campsites is slight, you will be able to enjoy a little more total elevation gain for your efforts. Bring a bathing suit in the summer, as you will have plenty of opportunities to discover small access points to this amazing river.