Paddling Oregon Rivers

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Oregon has more beautiful, exciting rivers than one person can canoe in a lifetime, so planning a paddling adventure there can be a challenge. To help the avid kayaker or canoeist who is headed for the exciting waters of the Northwest, GORP presents a select number of Oregon river descriptions, courtesy of Richard Penny's Whitewater Sourcebook. Penny is an expert paddler and serves as development director for Friends of the River, California's statewide river conservation group.

Blue River

Sections: Quentin Creek to Blue River Reservoir, Class IV (one at V)
Length of Run: Day trip, 4 miles
Location: Lane and Linn Counties, Oregon
Maps: USGS quads: Blue River (15')
Times Runnable: November to May after rain
Permit: None required.

Gauge: Flow above Lookout Creek
Sources for Current Level Information:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers, Cougar Dam; 541-726-7763.
How Reported: Cubic feet per second (cfs)
Interpretation of Levels: Around 300 cfs is minimum; 700-1000 is average high flow.

Sources of More Information:

  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
  • USDA Forest Service, Blue River Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, PO Box 1199, Blue River, OR 97413; 503-822-3317.

Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide.

Further Comments: Watch for downed trees. In recent years, there have been as many as three to six spots that require portage.

Clackamas River - Wild and Scenic River

Sections:

  1. Seven miles above Collawash to Riverside Campground, Class III-IV
  2. Upper, Collawash River to Three Lynx Powerhouse, Class III-IV (plus one portage)
  3. Lower, McIver Park to mouth, Class II (one at IV)

Length of Run:

  1. Day trip, 7 miles
  2. Day trip, 17 miles
  3. Day trip, 20 miles
Location: Clackamas County, Oregon; Mt. Hood National Forest
Maps: USGS quads: High Rock (15'), Fish Creek Mtn (15'), Colton (15'), Estacada, Redland, Damascus, Gladstone
Times Runnable: Year-round
Permit: None required.

Gauge: For Sections (1) and (2), Clackamas River at Three Lynx
Sources for Current Level Information:

  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666.
  • How Reported: Cubic feet per second (cfs)
    Additional Gauge: For Section (3), Clackamas River at Estacada
    Sources for Current Level Information:
  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666.
How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: Minimum is about 1000 cfs; medium is 2000; high is 5000. Experts have run this section as high as 20,000 to 30,000 cfs.

Sources of More Information:

  • USDA Forest Service, Estacada Ranger District, Mt. Hood National Forest, 200 SW Clubhouse Dr., Estacada, OR 97023; 503-630-6861.
  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Cassady, Cross, and Calhoun, Western Whitewater ; Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide ; Garren, Oregon River Tours ; Interagency Whitewater Committee, River Information Digest .

Further Comments: There is a mandatory portage around Killer Fang on Section (2); watch for downed trees on all sections.

Fall Creek

Sections:

  1. Bedrock Campground to Fall Creek Reservoir, Class III (one at IV)
  2. Fall Creek Dam to Jasper Park, Class I-II
Length of Run:
  1. Day trip, 10 miles
  2. Day trip, 7.5 miles
Location: Lane County, Oregon; Willamette National Forest
Maps: USGS quads: Hardesty Mtn., (15'), Lowell (15')
Times Runnable: November to May after rain
Permit: None required.

Gauge: Discharge from Fall Creek Reservoir
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers, Lookout Point Reservoir; 503-937-2131.

How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: About 800 or 1000 is minimum and 3000 is high. Experts have run this section as high as 18,000 cfs.

Sources of More Information:

  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
  • USDA Forest Service, Willamette National Forest, 211 E. 7th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401; 503-687-6521.
Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide .

Lake Creek

Sections:Deadwood Creek to Tide, Class III (IV high)
Length of Run: Day trip, 7 miles
Location: Lane County, Oregon
Maps: USGS quads: Mapleton (15')
Times Runnable: November to May after rain
Permit: None required.

Gauge: Extrapolate from the Siuslaw at Mapleton Nearby.
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666. Stay on the line and ask for this one.

How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: The flow on Lake Creek isusually about a third of the flow on the Siuslaw. After conversion, minimum will be about 1600 cfs; medium is 8000, and high is 15,000-20,000 (Class IV).

Sources of More Information:

  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide .

Santiam River, Middle

Sections:

Sections:

  1. Seven miles above Green Peter Reservoir to Green Peter Reservoir, Class IV
  2. Green Peter Reservoir to Foster Reservoir, Class IV
Length of Run:
  1. Day trip, 7 miles
  2. Day trip, 2.5 miles
Location: Linn County, Oregon
Maps: USGS quads: Quartzville (15'), Cascadia (15'), Sweet Home (15')
Times Runnable: Section (1) is runnable in winter after rain, or in spring and early summer after snowmelt. Section (2) is runnable year-round after dam releases for power generation at Foster Dam.
Permit: None required.

Gauge: For Section (1), extrapolate from the South Santiam at Cascadia. The Middle Santiam will be running a few hundred cfs less.
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers, Foster Dam; 503-367-5124.
How Reported: Cfs
Additional Gauge: For Section (2), release from Green Peter Dam
Sources for Current Level Information:
  • US Army Corps of Engineers, Foster Dam; 503-367-5124.

How Reported: Cfs, upcoming release schedule (in units). One unit releasing corresponds to 2000 cfs, and two units to 4000.
Interpretation of Levels: For Section (1), minimum is about 900; high is about 2000. For section (2), minimum is about 200; high is about 4000. Experts have run this section at 10,000 cfs.

Sources of More Information:

  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
  • Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide.

Santiam River, North - Wild and Scenic River

Sections:

Sections:

  1. Whispering Falls Campground to Detroit Reservoir, Class III
  2. Big Cliff Dam to Packsaddle Park, Class III (one at IV-V plus portage of one dam)
  3. Packsaddle Park to Mill City, Class II-III
  4. Mill City to Mehama, Class II-III
Length of Run:
  1. Day trip, 6 miles
  2. Day trip, 5 miles
  3. Day trip, 7 miles
  4. Day trip, 7.5 miles
Location: Linn and Marion Counties, Oregon; Willamette and Mt. Hood National Forests
Maps: USGS quads: Detroit (15'), Quartzville (15'), Mill City (15'), Lyons (15')
Times Runnable: October to June
Permit: None required.

Gauge: For Section (1), inflow to the Detroit Reservoir
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit Dam; 503-897-2385.
  • How Reported: Cfs
    Additional Gauge: For Sections (2) through (4), North Santiam at Mehema
    Sources for Current Level Information:
  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666.

How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: For Section (1), about 1000 cfs is minimum; 2000 is high. For Sections (2) through (4), minimum is about 750 to 1000 cfs; moderate flows are in the range from 2000 to 4000; high is 4000 to 6000; very high is 6000 to 10,000 cfs.

Sources of More Information:

  • USDA Forest Service, Willamette National Forest, 211 E. 7th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401; 503-687-6521.
  • USDA Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest, 2955 NW Division St., Gresham, OR 97030; 503-667-0511.
  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide .

Santiam River, South - Wild and Scenic River

Sections: Mountain House to Foster Reservoir, Class IV (one at VI+)
Length of Run: Day trip, 10 miles
Location: Linn County, Oregon; Willamette National Forest
Maps: USGS quads: Cascadia (15'), Sweet Home (15')
Times Runnable: In winter to spring after rain, or in spring to summer after snowmelt.
Permit: None required.

Gauge: South Santiam at Waterloo
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers, Foster Dam, Sweet Home; 503-367-5124.
  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666. Stay on the line and ask for this one.

How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: About 800 cfs is minimum and 3000 is high.

Sources of More Information:

  • USDA Forest Service, Willamette National Forest, 211 E. 7th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401; 503-687-6521.
  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide.

Further Comments: As of this writing, the Class VI rapid on this section had been run three times. You'll probably want to portage it.

White River

Sections:

  1. Barlow Crossing to Victor Road Bridge, Class III-IV
  2. Victor Road Bridge to Tygh Valley, Class II+ (one at III)
Length of Run
  1. Day trip, 18 miles
  2. Day trip, 11 miles
Location: Wasco County, Oregon
Maps: USGS quads: Mt. Hood South, Badger Lake, Mt. Wilson (15'), Rock Creek Reservoir, Wamac, Tygh Valley
Times Runnable: In spring or early summer after snowmelt
Permit: None required.

Gauge: White River at Tygh Valley
Sources for Current Level Information:

  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666.
How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: Minimum is about 500 cfs; 1000 is medium; 2000 is high.
Sources of More Information:
  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Cassady, Cross, and Calhoun, Western Whitewater ; Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide.

Willamette River

Sections:

  1. Jasper Park on the Middle Fork to the confluence and continuing to Alton Baker Park, Class II-III
  2. Alton Baker Park to Harrisburg, ClassI-II
Length of Run:
  • Day trip, 14 miles
  • Day trip, 14 miles
Location: Lane County, Oregon
Maps: USGS quads: Lowell (15'), Springfield, Eugene East, Coburg, Junction City, Harrisburg
Times Runnable: Year-round
Permit: None required.

Gauge: For the upper part of Section (1), Middle Fork of the Willamette at Jasper
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666. Stay on the line and ask for this one.
How Reported: Cfs
Additional Gauge: Willamette River at Eugene
Sources for Current Level Information:
  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666. Stay on the line and ask for this one.

How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: About 2000 is the minimum release on the Willamette; high is between 5000 and 10,000.

Sources of More Information:

  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide .

Wilson River

Sections:

  1. Jones Creek Forest Camp to Milepost 15, Class III
  2. Milepost 15 to boat ramp, Class II-III
Length of Run:
  1. Day trip, 8 miles
  2. Day trip, 8 miles
Location: Tillamook County, Oregon
Maps: USGS quads: Enright (15'), Blaine (15'), Tillamook (15')
Times Runnable: November to May after rain
Permit: None required

Gauge: Wilson River near Tillamook
Sources for Current Level Information:

Sources of More Information:

  • National Weather Service, Portland; 503-249-0666. You'll have to stay on the line and ask for this one.

How Reported: Cfs
Interpretation of Levels: Minimum is 1000; medium is 3500; high is 7000.

Sources of More Information:

  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, PO Box 1062, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • Sundance Expeditions, 14894 Galice Rd., Merlin, OR 97532; 503-479-8508.
Best Guidebooks: Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, Soggy Sneakers Guide .


© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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