Three Bears Recreation Site is a Bureau of Land Management property on the Molalla River. The Molalla River Corridor provides a scenic, natural waterway, within a 1.5-hour drive of Portland, Oregon. Several BLM Recreation areas along the river, including the Three Bears Recreation Site, provide amenities, camping, and picnic areas to enjoy the wilderness along the river. The Bureau facilities at the sites are minimal to provide a natural wilderness experience for visitors. The river and recreation sites are well treed with interesting geological features including layered lava flows, with the river having cut its own path through the basalt volcanic rock.
The area has been recently redeveloped, and the Three Bears Recreation Site has a small tent campground and picnic area on the river, with a rocky beach, and a shallow swimming hole. There are lots of hiking opportunities in the region, and the swimming hole is a great place to cool down after a day of hiking. The waters of the Molalla River are clear, cool, and attractive for wading or a quick dip.
A nearby trail is designated for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and provides an excellent way to explore the adjacent wilderness area.
Three Bears Recreation Site is situated near several fantastic wilderness areas and state parks that provide RV camping, recreational activities, and natural wilderness terrain. Check out the Table Rock Wilderness, Milo McIver State Park, Silver Falls State Park, and Willamette Mission State Park which are just a short drive away.
The Three Bears Recreation Site is located on the west bank of the Molalla River, just off of Molalla Forest Road. The location is just a 90-minute drive south of Portland, Oregon, where numerous amenities and facilities are available, and small towns in the vicinity can also supply campers' needs. There is a parking lot at the recreation site, but space for large units is limited. Routes in the area to reach the site may require you to cross the Molalla River. Bridges are paved, with no overhead clearance limits, so large RV units and tow trailers can easily traverse the river.
There is limited cell phone coverage in the Molalla River region, so ensure you have supplies, and satellite aided GPS devices and maps to navigate the region. The Molalla River Road is frequently used by logging trucks, use caution when traveling on the road as logging trucks can have large loads that impede visibility, decrease maneuverability, and protrude from trailers.
To reach the Three Bears Recreation Site from the town of Molalla, head southeast on Main Street and take a right at the Oregon Route 211/Mathias Road. There are signs to Freyer Park; follow this route and proceed past Freyer Park, over the bridge on the Molalla River. Turn right and continue on to the Dickey Prairie Road. You will pass the Dickie Praire Store on the left, continue another 3.7 miles, then turn right on Molalla Forest Road. Take the road across the Glen Avon Bridge and turn left to head south for another 3 miles. The Three Bears Recreation Site is on your left.
Feyrer Park is just a 15-minute drive north of the Three Bears Recreation Site, and offers overnight camping for both tents and RVs, accommodating RV units up to 50 feet in length. RVers will find water and electric hookups here.
There are 20 campsites and up to eight people and two pets per site are permitted. The campground is situated in a public park owned and operated by Clackamas County. Activities at the park are facilitated by volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a playground. There are also picnic tables and a picnic shelter on site.
The campground and park are located on the Molalla River and campers can also boat, as there is a boat ramp here, and fish from the site. Amenities include an RV dump station, camp host on-site, potable water supply, firewood sales, flush toilets, and garbage removal services. Sites have picnic tables and fire rings. The campground is open from May 1 to October 1 and reservations are available.
There is a small campground located at the Three Bears Recreation Site which is appropriate for walk-in tent camping. The campground is located at an evaluation of 682 feet and heavily forested, so there is plenty of shade. A parking lot situated at the site accommodates vehicles nearby. There are 15 campsites with tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, and grills.
You will find limited amenities at this natural site, but there are vault-style toilets and a potable water supply. The campground is located on the river with access to a cobble beach and a shallow swimming hole. You need to bring your own firewood as none is available for sale on-site, and collection of firewood is not permitted.
There are no garbage facilities here, and campers must pack in and out whatever they need and use. The campground is open from May 15 to September 15, on a first come first serve basis with a small camping fee. A camp host may be available on site. Pets are permitted.
The Hardy Creek Trailhead is located just down the road to the south, .2 miles from the Three Bears Recreation Site. This is a ½ mile out and back hike in a heavily wooded area. The shaded route has minimal elevation changes and is rated for intermediate level hikers.
Another 14 miles south and east of the Three Bears Recreation site is the trailhead for the Table Rock Hike. This hike is a seven-mile out and back trail, with just over 1700 feet of elevation gain and spectacular views of the surrounding wilderness area. Take plenty of water, insect repellent, and sturdy hiking boots! During the fall the spectacular colors in the region are a real treat.
There are numerous local attractions near the Three Bears Recreation Site. Check out the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm which boasts 15 acres of colorful tulip gardens. Or visit the Rosse Posse Acres Elk Ranch, which is a 52-acre ranch, home to a population of 70 elk and a petting zoo.
While in the area, you can also visit the Pacific NW Live Steamers Train Park which has a small railroad and historic train. There is lots to learn here, and you can take a train ride too!
Another area attraction is the Dibble House Museum, which was a home constructed in the nearby town of Molalla in 1859, and is now a museum run by the local historical society. These are some great options in the offseason when the weather is inclement for hiking and enjoying the river.
Just 100 miles northwest of the Three Bears Recreation Site is the magnificent Mount Hood. The mountain is the site of downhill ski resorts, nordic cross country ski trails, and fun snow tubing areas. During the winter you can enjoy plenty of excitement and adventure at the resorts here, with equipment rentals, lessons, groomed runs, set tracks, lessons and accommodations on site.
While the climate in this Oregon area may seem relatively mild in the winter, temperatures at the higher elevations of Mount Hood support ample snow cover. Be sure to bundle up to be prepared to enjoy the snowy wonderland here in the winter season.
The Three Bears Recreation Site has a gravel beach right on the Molalla River. There is a shallow pool located here, ideal for wading to cool off your feet after a long day hiking in the region, or to splash around with little ones. There is a deeper pool on the opposite bank near the rock wall to take a refreshing dip.
The waters of the river are relatively warm in the summer and are known for being clear and inviting. There are several swimming holes at the recreation sites along the river you can also check out while staying in the area. There are no lifeguards on duty; keep children within arms reach, and wear a life preserver if you are uncertain of your swimming ability as there is a current in the river.
Many visitors to the Three Bears Recreation Site, and the Molalla River Corridor, enjoy fishing from the banks of the river. This is an undammed river, with natural fish populations. Species available for catching in the river include smallmouth bass, steelhead trout, and salmon.
The river levels fluctuate and are lower in the fall and winter. Late spring and summer may be the best time to try your luck angling or fishing. Remember to bring some bug spray in this heavily wooded waterfront locale and be sure to have a valid State of Oregon fishing license.
Designated hiking trails in the Molalla River Corridor in the Three Bears Recreation Site vicinity can also be utilized by equestrians and mountain bike enthusiasts. Watch out for trail traffic, especially during the peak season.
Ensure you have appropriate safety equipment, including helmets, as the terrain is rough and the trails are densely wooded with limited sightlines which can create hazards. Horses should be acclimated to a variety of trail traffic and bikes should be in good mechanical conditions to navigate the terrain.