Sunday, June 21, 2009

Milo McIver State Park

Milo McIver State Park sits along the Clackamas River on a huge piece of land. It boasts a campground and two day use areas. This was my first overnight trip, yet we made great use of several features of the park. I really enjoyed my visit to this park.

Milo McIver is the place to go when you want a lot of options and the ability to stay constantly entertained outside of your campsite. There are trails to hike, bike, and horse. Well-maintained trails meander through the trees, offering a sense of peace and a fairly cool place to be in toasty weather. The trails I have been on are great for beginning or intermediate hikers. There could be more challenging trips, but the ones I tested were pretty casual. If trails aren't cool enough for you, there is always the beautiful Clackamas River! This clean, cool river is a good place to dip your toes, fish, boat, or white-water raft. The day use areas even offer boat ramps. It pretty much offers post-card quality scenery.

The park also has 27 unique holes of disc golf. A 9 hole course and an 18 hole course start at separate day-use areas and wend their way through fields, stands of trees, and along the river. Lucky for me and my erratic throws, it wasn't dangerously close to the river. There is a hobby field with a runway for model airplanes that the deer also seem to be fond of frolicking in. Also, within the bounds of the park, is a salmon hatchery. You can see the thousands of alevins and battle-scarred adult salmon returning from previous years. Whether you're visiting McIver to camp or play for the day, all of this is available through a single day-use fee. The only disadvantage is that there is some serious distance between the campground and day use areas. Biking or driving is the most practical option - hoofing it is possible, but be prepared for quite the trot! Activities here are a 4.5.

Site Quality
This park offers a strong showing as far as sites go. There are only two loops in the park - one loop is populated by sites with hookups and the other with tent sites. In general, the sites were huge. However, there were a few randomly scattered sites that seemed to be a bit of a squeeze. Privacy was also impressive with a combination of tall trees and well-developed understory. Again, there were parts of the park (particularly in the hook-up sites) where the understory grew only a couple feet high. There is plenty of elbow room between most sites.

The tent sites offered a unique perspective on car camping. They were directly off a parking lot, so you could park very close to your site, but there was no actual concrete pad to pull your vehicle in to. Personally, I enjoyed the opportunity to have the convenience of a car within ten feet, but not have it sitting in the middle of my campsite. All the tent sites were roomie and boasted lots of the aforementioned undergrowth. Cedar trees and the rich smells of a healthy forest perfumed the site.

An outhouse was a short walk away, though be sure to close the lid to keep the smell down. Firepits and tables also complemented each site. Water spiggots were easily accessible. While the tent sites were separated from the others and you did not have the "RV fence" you find in some grounds, they were still close enough in proximity that the singing, laughing, and crying children from the hook-up sites was still audible in the tent sites.

Milo McIver also offered a group site as well as two horse camps. There were also hike in/bike in camps. With the variety and the careful planning, these near-to-perfect sites rank a 4.5.

Campground hosts and park rangers were both friendly and available. The rangers, in particular, had a strong and helpful presence within this park. I never managed to find any litter and bathrooms were clean and in working order. Fire pits appeared to be routinely scooped. The floor of the campsites had a good smattering of pine needles which may show lack of maintenance to some, but created a lovely soft camper's carpet for me. I never felt like they posed a fire hazard. The maintenance is a strong 5.

Overall Value
Milo McIver State Park is low to moderately priced in comparison with other parks. It boasts high-quality campsites and a plethora of fun activities. This really is a park which has something for everyone. I believe the value is a 5 on my scale.

Picnic tables, flush toilets, showers, pit toilets, drinkable water, and fire pits are available, though you may have to travel to the hook-up loop to find some. Garbage and recycling are located centrally at the front of the park. The day use area contains disc golf, a whitewater raftable river, a salmon hatchery, a hobby field, and several trails accessible to hikers, bikers, and/or horse riders. Hosts sold firewood and the park teemed with wildlife. There was enough parking throughout the area and plenty to discover!

Miscellaneous Notes
Unfortunately, I'm writing this review terribly late, but I believe check, cash, or card were all viable payment options. Cell phone reception was good all over the park. At the time I went, the insects were not bad. The river moves rapidly, so it doesn't lend itself to mosquitos, but being a moist forest, I'm sure during peak times there is no immunity from the mosquito plague. The disc golf course, in my opinion, is one of the most entertaining I've played. It can be a bit tricky to navigate between holes your first time, but there is great variety in the way the holes play.

How hard is it to find?
Take I-5 to Mollala/Oregon City. Follow the signs to Redland Road. Take Redland until it Ts at Springwater and turn right. Milo McIver is a mile down on the left. You won't see any signs for the park until you're on Springwater, but it is an easy drive through plenty of country once you depart I-5.

Will you go back?
Absolutely. The park has the double-benefit of being close to home for me, providing some of my favorite activities, and being great camping in general. In fact, I have trips in August and September planned with family and Oregon State Park's Let's Go Camping! program, so I'll edit this post with any updates then!

This park is perhaps not the perfect place to bring a first-time, reluctant camper, but any other stratification of camper should find something they will enjoy. The privacy yet activity makes this a wonderful destination whether you're camping with a sweetie or taking the whole family along. I highly recommend checking out Milo McIver State Park, at an overall 4.8, and am happy to say it's likely to be a well-supported park for years to come.

1 comment:

Missy said...

Thanks for the nicely done review of McIver! Since you tent camp and write about it, have you ever considered posting your favorite camp sites? Like "C7" or "anything in the B loop" I have always thought it would be so helpful if people posted which sites they liked and why.