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Familes can enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful Molalla River Corridor

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - Henry Stahl, 8, of Corvallis casts his line into a pool on the Molalla River at Three Bears Park in the corridor.When was the last time you took a trip up the Molalla River Corridor? If it’s been a while, you are really missing something.

Not many communities have such a spectacular recreation area right in their own backyard, and it’s a shame not to get out and enjoy it.

There’s something for everyone, from toddlers to grandparents, in that wild, verdant green span of river that carves its way through age-old cliffs of basalt. The water is crisp, clean and clear, even now at the end of summer when the river levels are low. Rapids tumble into deep, inviting pools all along the river's route.

by: KAREN GRAVES - Upper Shotgun Falls, one of many waterfalls in the Molalla River CorridorMolalla author Karen Graves has highlighted most of the trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, waterfalls and creeks that make up the five-plus-mile Molalla River Recreation Corridor in her book, “Lonely Trails.” Graves also serves as a tourist guide in the corridor and is there most weekends, handing out information pamphlets and offering suggestions to tourists, hikers, bikers and equestrians.

“People see the corridor as a six-mile stretch, but it’s really more than 12 miles,” Graves said. “And it’s beautiful year-round, in the fall with all the color as leaves turn, in the winter when the waterfalls freeze, spring with wildflowers growing along the trails and summer with the kids splashing in the pools.”

New in the corridor this summer are the two BLM campgrounds, Three Bears and Cedar Grove, built by the Bureau of Land Management with help from local volunteers.

Adam Milner of the BLM, said these campgrounds will greatly affect the fishing opportunities within the corridor in a good way.

Each campground has multiple secluded campsites with running water, restrooms, trash receptacles, etc. This is a big deal, because it means that the sooner the new campgrounds are operational, the sooner existing, degraded streamside campsites can be closed down for restoration work to begin.

And it’s thanks to nonprofit groups like Molalla RiverWatch and Molalla River Alliance that the corridor is what it is today.

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - Henry Stahl dashes across a new bridge built to span a small creek running through the BLM Black Bear Park on a trail down to the river.Not many years ago, crime was a serious problem along the river, and the beaches were litteredwith trash. Today, as more and more people discover the beauty of the corridor, an area that was once considered unsafe is now cleaned up, providing an inviting recreation area for hikers, bikers, fishermen, campers and families.

“Some local people worry that tourists will trash the corridor, but it’s when the ‘good’ people come in and take over the area that the ‘bad’ people stay out,” Graves said. “Molalla could be the gateway to the corridor, bringing tourist dollars into the town. It would be good for everybody.”by: PEGGY SAVAGE - One of the easy trails perfrect for small kids and grandparents at Three Bears.