If your aim this summer is to beat the crowds and enjoy the great outdoors then Alder Flat at the Mount Hood National Forest is the place to be. A one hour drive of Portland, the only way to access the backcountry campsites and the swimming hole is via a roughly mile-long hike along the Alder Flat Trail. Adventure enthusiasts might find the trail too short for their liking, but the journey is quite rewarding in itself and the destination is definitely worthwhile. It is due to this very 1-mile walk to reach the pool and basalt outcroppings that Adler Flat is far less populated than all other swimming holes along the Clackamas River.
The destination for all those who jump onto Alder Flat trail is the cool rocky beach that forms the front of the swimming hole at Alder flats, or one of the five primitive campsites that overlook the river. Every campsite near Alder Flat is completely enclosed by a grove of red alder that gives this swimming hole its name. Originating from the Dry Creek Pond, the trail meanders through a variety of species of rushes, ferns and skunk cabbage. Adventure enthusiasts can also try their hand at fishing in the wild and scenic Clackamas River and attempt to capture steelhead, Coho salmon, and chinook.
Access allowed: All year round
Hiking distance: 1 mile
Location: Mt. Hood National Forest
GPS coordinates: 45.08066, -122.0561
Elevation: 1,311 ft (400 m)
Alder Flat is located:
- 25 miles southeast of Estacada
- 56 miles southeast of Portland
- 77 miles northeast of Salem
- 125 miles northwest of Bend
- 140 miles northeast of Eugene.
Body of water: River
Water quality: Clear & transparent
Depth: Deep and shallow
Beach: Rocks and rock formation
Water T° (summer): Cool
No drinking water
No garbage service
Driving Directions to Alder Flat
- Drive on Highway 26 East to Sandy
- Turn right on Highway 211 and follow for about 6 miles to Highway 224
- Turn left onto Highway 224 East (HWY 211S) and continue 29.9 miles to the trailhead on the right.
From Salem & Eugene
- From I-5, take Exit 271 for Highway 214, and turn right onto Highway 214 toward Woodburn
- Continue on Highway 211 North for 33.2 miles to Highway 224 East
- Turn left onto Highway 224 East and continue 29.9 miles to the trailhead on the right.
The Alder Flat trailhead is located on the left of the parking area. Hike for about 0.35 miles to the trail's intersection. Bear right and continue hiking for 0.65 miles to the Clackamas River.