As today's world seems to apply an endless supply of pressures on us that limit our time to escape, it becomes even more important than ever to reconnect with nature. The first video in the Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge region's "Meet the Neighbors" series introduces you to Clackamas River Outfitters owner and guide Luke Spencer, who is ready to help anyone get that much-needed nature time.
To some people, it may seem like a trip down the river. But to Luke, it's that critical reconnect with where we came from that fuels the soul. You don't have to be an expert paddler to enjoy their excursions, they offer both flat water and whitewater trips on stretches of this federally designated Wild and Scenic River. You can take a serene kayaking trip down a peaceful stretch of the river, or amp up the adrenaline with a stand up paddleboard (SUP) trip down some whitewater runs. Either way, you're connecting with a beautiful place.
Once you're done on the river and head into town in Estacada, you may also run into Luke again at Clackamas River Growlers. Luke picks up a shift there each week as he's long-time friends with the owners. The business is unique in that the owners are deaf. The owners communicate with their customers through signs, sign language and even giving customers marker boards to write down their orders. In no time, you'll be served a great regional brew with a smile.
Estacada is a truly wonderful small town in Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory with much more to see. The history of the area is told through a series of colorful murals located on the sides of buildings throughout the community. The Artback program started as a grass-roots program with a group of local artists back in 1992. Since then dozens of murals ranging from depicting Native American culture in the region, Estacada's roots as a timber community, pioneers traversing the Oregon Trail and many other historical subjects have been added to the mix.
Speaking of history, nearby is Philip Foster Farm, a remnant of the Barlow Road section along the famed Oregon Trail. The farm was the first sign of civilization for many weeks as weary travelers made their way over the rugged Cascade range, and served as a spot to rest and resupply for the final leg of their journey that completed in Oregon City. This year is the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, and Philip Foster Farm has a number of events coming up this summer that commemorate the milestone. When you visit, explore the historic structures that are still standing since being built in the 1800s. Kids will get a kick out of trying the many hands-on experiences they have there, from building cabins with the massive Lincoln-style logs to grinding corn or riding on the hay bale pulley swing.
Just outside of Estacada is Milo McIver State Park, a beautiful facility with a wealth of activities and some pretty amazing views to boot. Access to hiking and equestrian trails, great campsites, fishing, boating and an exciting disc golf course are just a few of the long list of amenities there. Plus there are some great photo ops, so make sure your camera is charged and ready to go.
As the world and our lives continue to get busier, Estacada is a welcomed respite from that busy pace. Filled with friendly faces and knowledgeable people like Luke, who just want to share their little slice of heaven, be sure to add Estacada to your itinerary when touring Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory.