Spring is here, but on the west side of the Cascades it can be a challenge to find places where the trails are dry enough to ride, even on a sunny spring day. Never fear! The trails at McIver State Park offer nice year round riding, plus some excellent trail obstacles you can practice your skills on.
Milo McIver State Park is located 25 miles southeast of Portland and 3 miles south of Estacada, on the bank of the Clackamas River. The park’s equestrian trails run in a lopsided figure-8 from the parking area, with each loop divided by a connector trail to create additional riding options.
The northern loops run through beautiful forest and down into the valley carved by the Clackamas River. The larger of these loops follows the park’s Perimeter Trail and takes you along the river shore. The southern loops run through forest and along open meadows. Both sets of trails are open year-round, though the hilly stretches of the northern trails may be slippery after a rain. The southern trails have good footing year round.
One of the southern trails also has something that no other trail in the state can boast: “training stations,” or trail obstacles, located at periodic intervals along the trail. The training stations are positioned beside the trail so you can ride past them if you choose. Or you can stop and do a little trail-obstacle training with your horse, exposing him in a controlled environment to the types of challenges you may encounter on any trail. The training stations feature step-over logs, a back-through gate, a step-up platform, a teeter-totter bridge, a pass-through gate, cavaletti poles, a balance beam, and a suspension bridge.
The training stations are designed to be safe for novice trail riders while still being challenging for more experienced riders and their horses. The obstacles offer excellent opportunities to improve your horse’s skill and confidence on the trail while adding some variety to your riding. And if you’re interested in participating in ACTHA rides or Competitive Trail events, the training stations offer an excellent way to hone your skills.
The equestrian trails and training stations at McIver State Park are maintained by dedicated volunteers from Oregon Equestrian Trails’ North Valley chapter. These volunteers also built the Park’s training stations, with a financial donation from the Territorial Riders chapter of Back Country Horsemen. Thank you, OET and BCH!
The park currently doesn’t allow overnight camping, but a 6-site horse camp and additional equestrian trails have recently been included in the park’s master plan. Volunteers are working hard to raise the funds to make these planned features a reality. So someday soon, even if you live out of town you’ll be able to join local riders in enjoying the beautiful trails and the fun training stations at McIver State Park.
Ride Statistics: McIver State Park features 7 miles of equestrian trails. The Park’s Perimeter Trail is a 5-mile loop, and connector trails create the 3- and 3.8-mile northern loops and the 1.2- and 1.3-mile southern loops. The trails vary between 300 and 700 feet in elevation. The footing is suitable for barefoot horses. The trails are open year round, unless high water makes a section of the Perimeter Trail impassible. A good map of the trails can be found at www.oregonstateparks.org/park_142.php.
Getting to Milo McIver State Park: From I-205 on the east side of Portland, take Exit #12A (to Clackamas/Estacada) and drive east on Hwy. 212/224 for 3.2 miles. Turn right on Hwy. 224 toward Estacada, drive 1.1 mile, and veer right on Springwater Road. The road immediately crosses the Clackamas River and turns left. Continue on Springwater Road for 9.5 miles and turn left into the park. To reach the equestrian parking lot, turn right at the first stop sign, go straight at the second stop, then turn right into the parking area.
Trailhead Facilities: McIver State Park has a huge gravel equestrian parking area with portable toilets, garbage cans, picnic tables, an outdoor arena, a hitching rail, an ADA mounting ramp, and stock water from a spigot. A fee is charged for day use. There is currently no overnight camping permitted, but the Park’s Master Plan calls for a horse camp and additional equestrian trails, and local equestrian groups are working hard to raise the money to build these facilities.
More Information: The equestrian trails at Milo McIver State Park are featured in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2013)
— Reprinted from Northwest Rider Magazine, with permission —