Directions: You can start from the Fish Creek Trailhead or Indian Henry Trailhead, OR do a car shuttle and go from one trailhead to the other. We chose to start at Fish Creek and make this an out and back hike. To get to the Fish Creek Trailhead take 224 to Estacada. Go through Estacada and turn right at mile post 39 onto Fish Creek Road. The parking area is on the right and the trailhead is on the left.
We picked a really hot day (mid 90’s in October!) and it made this hike a bit of a struggle. This trail constantly switches from partially shaded riverside hike to forested to very exposed. The Clackamas River is beautiful and early on in the hike you have a few opportunities to get great pictures. The trail is eroding pretty badly in a few areas but is still passable, just be careful. You’ll pass a few fallen trees on the trail and some little streams that are easily rock hopped over. The trail is pretty much like a roller coaster. You gain and lose elevation the whole way.
Soon you’ll come to an exposed area where it can get really hot. It stays exposed off and on for a good while until you drop down into a marshy area. After the marshy area the trail stays pretty covered as you wind through the forest. You’ll pass a zip-line and see many rafters and kayakers below.
Around the marshy area we ran into a few hikers asking if we had ever been to the falls and how much farther they had to go. It seemed like everyone felt like it was a lot farther than they had planned. A couple people even turned back. We don’t blame them, by this point we were VERY hot and chugging water like crazy. We decided to keep going and about a mile later we came to the junction with Pup Creek Falls. It’s not marked well so keep your eyes peeled. The junction is about 4 miles from the trailhead. It’s only a quarter mile more from the junction to the falls.
The side trail to the falls is in good shape until you reach the falls. You’ll have to do some log and rock climbing in a few parts but nothing too extreme. Pup Creek Falls is tall and beautiful and it’s pretty peaceful back there. We only saw a few people the whole time.
Another thing we noticed was on the way back out we had even more people asking us how far it was to the falls. Seemed like everyone was having a bit of a struggle that day, probably due to the heat. Although it does seem a bit farther than it actually is.
Overall this is a nice hike. The Clackamas River is beautiful and the trail is well maintained. Pup Creek Falls is great and nicely secluded. This is a great trail if you are birders, like us. We saw a few Western Tanagers which was awesome. As well as many other birds.
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation: 500 feet
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: May not be best for young kids or older folks.
Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass
Overall: Great waterfall but kind of a rough trail.