Milo McIver State Park: Clackamas County’s Dreamland

Posted on Sep 18, 2016 | 0 comments


Located just 25 miles from downtown Portland is a relatively unknown state park, Milo McIver. In 1970, this was the site of the famous Vortex I state-sponsored rock festival designed to lure the young and restless away from Portland where President Nixon was scheduled to appear at an American Legion convention. (He cancelled.)

Since then, Milo McIver park has quietly become a destination for anglers (a fish hatchery is located in the park), campers, and recently disc golfers. Few runners take advantage of the nearly 12 miles of trails there, although it has hosted many college level cross country meets and a few trail races.

The park trails are divided into two sections, the Rivermill trails in the east of the park and the Riverbend trails in the west. Both groups of trails have open meadow sections, forested sections, and some substantial hills. A trail map with approximate distances can be found here.


The Rivermill trails are primarily horse trails and are quite wide with a good surface the majority of the year. The main trail circles the perimeter of the eastern half of the park. Access it from the horse parking area or the Riverside day use area. It is approximately 5 miles to complete the full loop.

Construction is almost complete on a new section of these trails that will add an additional mile of trail. With several crossover trails and spurs, a fairly substantial run can be had in this area alone without repeating a great deal.

The more wooded Riverbend trails are closed to horses, so narrower with shorter, steeper hills. Part of the Riverbend trail runs very closely to the Clackamas River and is a fast, flat, smooth mile with excellent footing. There is a bit less total distance on this side—about 4 miles—and the running is more technical. Winter conditions can be challenging with mud in some of the areas, the Maple Ridge section in particular.


Currently the Vortex trail connects the two sides of the park, but it is in a slide-prone area and difficult to maintain. It is passable, but take care in a few sections. A more stable route is in the first stages of preparation with work to be carried out this fall (2016). When that trail is complete it will greatly increase the variety of experiences the runner can have at this beautiful park along the river.

How to get there: From Portland, take the Milwaukie Expressway (Hwy 224)  across I-205 and continue on highway 224 to the town of Carver. Take a right at that point across the Clackamas River and a quick left onto Springwater Road. Follow Spirngwater for just over 9 miles and look for the park entrance on your left.

[Trail Map]





Brent MacDermot is a retired teacher and coach. He works weekends at PRC in Beaverton. Email [email protected]

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