Virtual 4th Edition of Soggy Sneakers.
Soggy Sneakers, A Guide to Oregon Rivers, was written by members of the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club. The Third edition was published in 1994, with the second printing in1996, by The Mountaineers in Seattle. Please send any additions or corrections to me, Jim Reed, at email@example.com. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Also Check out WKCC's page for the latest updates and photos
The Master Index for the 3rd Edition of Soggy Sneakers You can view it here, but it is much more valuable to download it and open it in Excel. You can sort by river, section, region, class, length, gradient, opt flow, season, scenery, features, remoteness, elevation lost, wild and scenic, range of flow.
To get it into Excel, from Windows, right click on The Master Index then Save Target As… to a file. From a Mac, hold the mouse button down and Save As. Open up Excel or ClarisWorks then open the index.
Shuttle details for Drift Creek
Corrections to the location of the Class IV on the Upper Row
New Class III Rapid, "Wash out" on the Lower Deschutes
The complete list of changes/corrections for Soggy Sneakers, Third edition, First printing
Return to Jim's Home Page
Lower Imnaha River, Oregon(9/95) by Thomas A. Bell
McKenzie River, Upper. Class V Clear Lake to Carmen Reservoir by Jim Reed
10/27/92 David Gilmore, Jens Mullen, Jim Reed
Flow: 200 cfs, 0.7' at Clear Lake outflow
Length: 2 miles
Time: 3 hours
Grad extreme, class V
Difficulties: Dark moss covered rocks
Put in: Coldwater Cove campground on Clear Lake, or maybe park at Sahalie and carry upstream
Take out: Koosah Falls or in Carmen Reservoir.
You put on at Clear Lake which was formed 1,500-3,000 yrs ago by a lava flow. Springs flow into the lake and form the beginning or source of the McKenzie River. A few miles downstream of Carmen reservoir, the river actually goes underground for 3.5 miles and reappears in the fantastically aquamarine blue colored Tamolitch(=bucket) Pool. So don't count on paddling all the way to Trail Bridge Reservoir like we did the first time. The alternate name for this run could be the Source to Sink Run.
The upper portion had one easy carry around a log and one limbo log across a ledge which maybe tricky at higher water. There are a series of ledge drops, compacted together. The highest one maybe 12' tall. The last one, an easy class III, is only 3' high but causes the most anxiety due the huge penalty for error-A 68' ride over Sahalie Falls. Take out on the left and carry down to the base of the falls, seal launch into the pool and paddle across the boil, facing into the horizontal blowing spume. Wear your goggles. The distance between the falls is 0.4 miles. From there, it is three nice consecutive drops, class IV: a drop into a spiral slot, a flush into a small pool then a left turn over a steep 10' clean ledge into a small pool. It took us 2.5 hrs to get here. The major drop follows: drop sideways onto a left pointing diagonal, duck under an old huge log, try to stroke on the right to angle across the face of the 12' ledge and boof into the eddy on the left, class V. Shortly below is another wide horizon line, a 20' fall onto a log and into a pool backed by a log jam. Carry on the left. One more ledge drop remains. Its upper part is lined by a horizontal tree branch on the left, avoid it. Take out above Koosah Falls on the left. Jog back up to your car.
Owyhee River, West Little Forkby Mike Quigley
For the "Yes, It has been run" section in Soggy Sneakers
West Little Owyhee: Anderson Crossing to Confluence with Main Stem Owyhee (Take-out at Three Forks).
Class 1 (5). Gradient: Unknown, Length: about 30-odd miles.
Run in 1993 by Mike Quigley and Bonnie Olin.
A kayak-only run through an incredibly beautiful and deep, vertical-walled desert canyon. 95% easy paddling punctuated by 5% pure terror in the form of boulder-choked passageways, syphons, right-angle turns, suckholes, and undercut amphitheaters. In some places the canyon narrows to not more than 10 feet. Portaging is virtually impossible. Lining is very difficult.
Flow depends on a brief period of snowmelt. The West Little is usually dried up while the main stem is still boatable. Access to put-in requires a high- clearance 4WD vehicle during wet conditions, and when Antelope Creek is fordable.
There is no stream flow or gradient data that I know of. The only ``rapids'' are room-size boulders that have collapsed from vertical-walled cliffs to block the channel; and they are not named nor marked on any map. I can only guess at where they are located; and, for that matter, how far we traveled (~30 miles). However, the flow was low and the water clear while the main stem was at 5300 cfs and turbid.
We were going to do Three Forks to Rome, but decided to try the West Little on a lark. I had hiked portions of the canyon before, and had always wanted to run it in a boat. In spite of having a high-clearance 4WD pickup, it was pure luck that we were able to access the put in at Anderson Crossing. The road (~40 miles) was in bad shape from rain, and we almost got stuck fording Antelope Creek. If it weren't for the Antelope Creek ford, access is fairly easy under dry (summertime) conditions.
Most of the canyon bottom is unique to high-desert rivers. Vertical cliffs and lack of access prevent livestock grazing. As a result, everything is lush and green, and no cow pies! Native plants abound. Lots of wildlife: mountain sheep, deer, birds of all species, bobcats. And, the animals were largely unafraid of our presence. We were a curiosity to them, and they would hang around and just watch us. Merganser ducks, normally skittish, swam right next to our boats. It was a garden of Eden.
The canyon consists of rhyolite which erodes vertically into spires, narrow cracks, and passageways, much like the upper Owyhee above Three Forks to East Fork confluence, and above 45 Ranch to Nevada border.
Will I do it again? Unlikely in a boat. It was a stroke of luck that we were able to access Anderson Crossing while the river had enough water to float in. The West Little drains some low-lying desert hills, and any snow on them comes off quickly, probably within a few days. And, when the West Little has water in it, so does Antelope Creek!
1993 was a unique flow year as evidenced by flood debris 50 feet over our heads in some of the narrower passageways. I would think that the channel blockers, undercut amphitheaters, and right-angle turns would be deadly at flood. They were tough enough when we did it (we're class 4 boaters, max!).
The local shuttle drivers wouldn't take my truck in there (they knew better?), so we ran our own shuttle consisting of a 4WD pickup, 4WD Subaru, and mountain bike.
We dropped the Subaru and bike off at Three Forks and took the pickup into Anderson Crossing. At take out, we drove the Subaru in as far as Antelope creek, and took the bike the rest of the way to the pickup. It was a hassle, but there were only the two of us.
BTW, we ran in inflatable kayaks so that we could carry gear. It took us three days with a lot of screwing around along the way.
Owyhee River, South Fork
The South Fork of the upper Owyhee, from head of the canyon put in at the YP (aka Petan) Ranch in Nevada to confluence with East Fork, is an easy 30- odd mile paddle through some of the most remote and spectacular canyon country in the continental U.S.
Unlike the East Fork, it is not a whitewater run. At flows above 250 cfs, an amateur can easily do it in an open canoe. There are three class 3 rapids and a diversion dam to contend with. At flows above 3000 cfs, the threes are largely washed out. At lower flows, some parts may have to be lined depending on skill. The diversion dam at 45 Ranch used to be runnable. However, it was blown out during the '93 flood and rebuilt with nice, sharp rip-rap. Use your own judgment. The portage is easy.
Landmarks along the way include:
*12-Mile Cabin: Homesteader ruin on right bank about 12 miles down from put in. Here, the relatively open basalt canyon begins to narrow to the familiar vertical-walled rhyolite canyon that the upper Owyhee is known for.
*Devil's Corral Rapid: Short class 3. No big deal.
*El Paso Pipline Crossing: Road access. Alternate put-in. Warning: road was blown out during '93 flood. Don't know if it's been rebuilt. Probably not. Things move slowly (if at all) over there.
*Devils Pinball Rapids: A two-mile-long series of fun class 3 bumps leading to the Idaho border. Open canoes may have to line some parts depending on skill.
*Bull Camp. Homesteader ruin on right bank. This was the camp of Claude Dallas when he killed the Idaho Fish and Game cops. His camp was located directly across the river about 50 feet up the bank.
*Coyote Hole: Homesteader ruin on right bank. First good source of fresh spring water. Lots of thundereggs lying about. The ruin is a work of art. Lots of thought and talent went into building this stone structure. Classic Basque brush corral and old farm equipment.
*Sentinal Rapid: Short class three. No big deal. Lead-in to deepest, narrowest part of upper canyon. Spectacular scenery and lots of Mountain sheep from here on.
*45 Dam. Diversion dam for 45 ranch.
*45 Ranch. Alternate put in if you want to cut a couple of days off your trip. Do not camp on Ranch property!
*Confluence with East Fork. Soggy Sneakers takes it from here.
Salmon Creekby Jim Reed and Jens Mullen
Upper Section: Class III(V); 8 miles; Flow 600-2,000+; Time: 2-3 hrs; 80 fpm
Lower Section : Class II-III; 8 miles; Flow 600-4,000+; Time: 3 hrs; 50 fpm
This is one of the runs where advanced boaters can run the upper few miles then meet up with their intermediate-level friends and finish out the run. It is also a run where the rest of the group can continue paddling the lower section, while the ones who drew the short straws, bike or drive back up to the put-in, and retrieve vehicles.
Salmon Creek Upper Section
This run begins as a mostly eddyless, nonstop class II-III until you encounter the gorge denoted by a steep vertical cobble wall on river left. At the looming horizon line, you'll want to scout from river right. Squirley, pulsating water leads to a class V drop with a log in it on river right. Just below, is a waterfall coming in on the left and another short, fun class IV. There is more class II-III until about 1 mile past the Squaw Butte Road bridge. This is the lead-in to the Falls. Here, the river cuts sharply to the left, then back to the right. A nice waterfall entering from the left tends to distract you as you get blown through this holey, class III+ drop. You can scout this drop and the Falls, which are just below, from the Salmon Creek Falls Campground area. We ran the main, 12-15' falls, just left of center. It sucked both of us down, back endered us and quickly spit us out. It looked like there was an alternate bouncy, class III route on far river left. The take-out for this upper section is about 1 mile downstream at the bridge on FS 207.
Salmon Creek, Lower Section: Class III
The put-in is approximately 2-3 miles up from the Falls. Be sure to put in below the class IV-V gorge which can be seen through the trees where the road rises steeply.
Take out under the Salmon Creek Bridge on Rt 58, just east of Oakridge.
Leave your car or bike at the new rest area just east of the bridge. As this rest area is on the Middle Fork of the Willamette, you will have a short carry from the river along the highway.
Difficulties. In addition to the ones mentioned for the upper section, there is a class III drop, one mile below the Falls, just below the upper section's take out bridge on FS 207. There is also a ledge near the railroad bridge about 3 miles below the Falls.
Shuttle: To get there, take Route 58 east from Oakridge. Just outside of town, you'll cross Salmon Creek. This is the take out for the lower section. Leave a vehicle at The Rest Area. Continue east for 1 mile and turn left at the signs for the fish hatchery, cross over Salmon Creek again and turn right onto Forest Service Rd 24. Reset your trip odometer here. A little beyond mile 3, FS road 207 enters on the right . The take out bridge for the Upper Section is one quarter mile down this road. Near Mile 4 on FS 24 is Salmon Creek Falls Campground. Stop here and check out the Falls and the Class III drop upstream. As detailed above, the put-in for the lower section is 2-3 miles above the falls. The upper section put-in is at the bridge, 6 miles up from the Falls, where the road crosses Salmon Creek. The elevation here is 2000'.
Gauge: Call the Southern Willamette Recording at 937-3852. The flow is roughly one quarter of the difference of the inflow to Lookout Point Reservoir and the outflow from Hill Creek. Also, at the Upper Put-in bridge, there is a FS gauge on river right, just under the bridge on its downstream side. A reading of 1.7' should be about 1000 cfs.
Other: We put in on Black Creek at the bridge, 10 mi from FS 207 bridge. Elev 2200'. It is runnable but not really recommended. We sieved through the branches of several overhanging trees, carried around 3 trees that spanned the river and paddled over a couple trees in the water. We looked at Upper Black Creek. It has a gradient of 300 fpm but looks like a portage fest. Upper Salmon may be an option but we didn't look.
This is another run where a bike is the ideal shuttle vehicle. The narrow paved road passes through an outstanding second growth forest. Count on 1.25 hr to bike the shuttle for the upper section. The lower section will be much faster.
Thanks to Bryan Tooley for pointing this run out to us.
Upper Little North Santiam
Boaters from Eugene, including Kevin Schrier, Bill Cerino, Jason Bates, and Gary Holton, had been eyeing this upper section for quite some time. Their preparatory research involved hiking and swimming sections of the river during low flow periods inthe summer of 1993. They have run three sections which are mostly class IV-V. The first section, which is 2.5 miles long, starts up in the Opel Creek Wilderness, which means you get to carry your boat two and half miles up to Mill Falls and run Big Fluffy. The next section, which is 3-4 mi. long, starts 0.5 miles above the access gate with the take out at Three Pools. The lower section starts at Three Pools and ends at a bridge crossing above Salmon Falls. This lower section is the most serious, least fun and entails a half hour scramble to scout the vertical walled class V gorge. The upper sections provide spectacular scenery and whitewater excitement. Flows of 1,000 cfs on the Little North Santiam recording are ideal. Due to extreme constrictions, 2,000 cfs maybe the upper limit for the upper and lower sections.
Santiam, Upper Little North, Middle section, Class IVby Jim Reed
Ran 3/4/94 with George Laird
Flow: 2300 cfs
Drive time about 2.5 hr from Eugene,
Run time about 3 hr
Biked the shuttle: took 55 min rt.
Put in: 1/2+ mile above gate into Opel Creek Wilderness Area, Carry your boat up the road, cross over Gold Creek, and take the next old logging road on your right, down to the river.
Take out: Three Pools day use area, obvious on the drive up.
Description: This is a spectacular, fun, Class III+, easy IV, pool drop, portagable run. George and I ran the middle section at 2300 cfs and found lots of wood choked channels with the wood still unsettled and bobbling around. (The run was really clean in Jan 1996). We spent a lot of time looking for the optimum portage route a couple of times. The 15' falls, which has been run at 1400 cfs, was not to our liking so we opted (or were forced?) for a short portage and a 20' seal launch. At 1500 cfs, you can seal launch from a 15' high platform. Thor's (the Norse god of thunder and weather) Playroom at the end was fast and big. The reactionary waves in the middle room, at this level, keep you from appreciating the 30' tall, midstream anvil. Take a good look at this when you drop off your shuttle vehicle.
Drift Creek Shuttle Details
p52 run 20 Drift Creek, Access. Shuttle mileages are different than guide book; by Al Kitzman
This is an incredibly beautiful run that cuts through the Drift Creek Wilderness Area and is a tributary to the Alsea River. We paddled it in March when the Alsea was at 7.6 feet and the Siletz was 8 feet, a good level. There was some log debris, but all of it was passable. This may not be the case with changing water levels. From Philomath it took 10 hours to get there and back, but the remoteness of the river and quality of the scenery was well worth it. If you plan to go, here are some mileage and description notes that are a little more accurate than what's in Soggy Sneakers.
Access: Be sure to bring the Siuslaw National Forest map and the Oregon Gazeteer for both the put-in and take-out vehicle. It is very easy to get lost in here. To go to the take-out: From US 101 in Waldport, at the north end of the bridge over the Alsea Bay, take Bayview Road eastward. After 4 miles turn left on Drift Creek Road and follow it to its intersection with Route 51. Continue on Drift Creek Road, then take the May Road fork until you come to the take out bridge, total of 3.2 miles. This take-out is on National Forest Service land. Most of the other land in this region is private.
To reach the put-in, return to the intersection with Route 51 and take Route 51 for 6.7 miles to Route 50. Bear right on Route 50 for 0.1 mile, then left on Route 50 for 6.5 miles to Route 31. Turn right onto Route 31 for 5.4 miles; it follows Horse Creek, then Meadow Creek to the confluence with Drift Creek, the put-in. Slickrock Creek, an alernate put-in, shortens the run to 13 miles.
Comments: The map in Soggy Sneakers does not reflect accurately the description above. I am not sure how to tell you to change it, simply because it is so confusing to follow this route on a map. There are a tremendous number of roads up there and even with the Gazetteer it was very hard to decipher. An attempt to simplify the route in Soggy Sneakers is almost futile.
Corrections to the description for the Upper Row
The Third edition of Soggy, on page 104, for run #62, says there is a "class 4 drop ... below a covered bridge". It should say above the bridge. When I entered Jason's notes, I screwed up. Jim Reed
DONNER UND BLITZEN RIVERby Steve Cramer and Larry Hodges
A National Wild and Scenic River, a superb fly fishing stream, a mountain river in a parched SE Oregon desert setting with no outlet beyond Malheur Lake, located in a region of exceptional wildlife and biological diversity, the Donner und Blitzen is, with a few exceptions, not paddled by the boating community. It drains the magnificent Steens Mountain, an uplift fault block in the Basin and Range Province. The river flows 17.3 miles and drops more than 800' from Blitzen Crossing(elevation 5055')to Page Springs through a deep, remote basalt canyon. Major tributaries are Indian Creek, Little Blitzen, and Fish Creek, all flowing out of high glacially-carved gorges on the west side of Steens Mountain. The BLM considers the Donner und Blitzen nonnavigable and manages the river for fishing and primitive outdoor recreational opportunities. The BLM is not interested in having recreational boating on the river because of potential user conflicts, particularly between boaters and fishermen.
The river has three distinct sections -- the South Fork from Indian Creek to Little Blitzen, the Donner und Blitzen from Little Blitzen to Fish Creek, and then from Fish Creek to Page Springs. Because of the limited access you paddle all three. BLM has four gates on the Steens Mountain Loop Road. Gate 4, the South Gate, is opened in May and provides access to the South Fork at Blitzen Crossing. Gate 3 at Blitzen Crossing is opened later, depending on snowpack. This does not help boaters, however, since there is no public access into the Riddle Brothers Ranch and to the confluence of the Little Blitzen and the South Fork beyond. The Little Blitzen increases the flow of the South Fork by about 60 pct; Fish Creek adds about the same amount. The South Fork starts out 10 to 20 ft wide; the river at Page Springs is 50 to 70 ft wide.
The gradient of the river is continuous. The paddling is technical. The action is absolutely nonstop class 2+ and 3 for 11.6 miles, then tapers off to 1+ and 2- for the last 5.7 miles. The river demands excellent boat control. The hazards are injuries and equipment damage compounded by the remoteness of the run for rescue. The banks on the upper stretches are choked with alder and redosier dogwood. These trees and their root systems, particularly on the South Fork, create long hazards along the banks for anyone out of their boat. Near the end of the run is a 4 ft high dam that separates the lower river from the upper and its native population of redband trout. There is a fence suspended over the river at Page Springs.
The Donner und Blitzen is one of the fine whitewater runs in Oregon. The river is demanding, the action is continuous, the scenery and setting is spectacular, the river is remote yet can be run as a day trip. The overall degree of difficulty is 3. The average gradient is 49 fpm. The run was made at a gage reading of 3.74 at Page Springs and a flow of 650 cfs. A shuttle can be arranged with Josh Warburton at Steens Mountain Resort in Frenchglen. Total paddling and scouting time was 6 hrs. Below is a brief description of each section.
South Fork from Indian Creek to Little Blitzen, Class III
Length 3.7 miles; gradient 57 fpm.
This is a narrow, technical stream crowded by brush from both banks, particularly in the first mile. At mile 2.3, in a left bend, is a class 3+ drop beginning a 1 mile section at 75 fpm. The confluence with the Little Blitzen on the right has a broad grassy delta with a very old jeep trail coming down to it. The canyon walls rise from 75 ft near the put-in to more than 150 ft at the confluence.
Donner und Blitzen from Little Blitzen to Fish Creek, Class III
Length 7.9 miles; gradient 56 fpm.
The river widens substantially at the Little Blitzen. There are two 70 to 75 fpm sections of roughly 1 mile length each. They begin at about 2 miles and 4 miles downstream from the Little Blitzen. The canyon walls rise more than 400 ft above the river. Very steep side canyons offer some interesting hikes to the rim; in particular, Tombstone Canyon on the left 2 miles below the Little Blitzen.
Donner und Blitzen from Fish Creek to Page Springs, Class II-
Length 5.7 miles; gradient 31 fpm. Actually this section starts about 1.8 miles above Fish Creek. Bottom land begins here and gradually expands downstream towards Page Spring. The canyon walls become lower, but still are about 200 ft above the river. The canyon widens. Beware of the low dam at the gaging station one mile above Page Springs, and the fence across river at Page Springs.
EXPLORATORY ON COW CREEK
by Steve Cramer, Rob Blickensderfer, and Larry Hodges
Cow Creek is over 80 miles long and drains a significant portion of southwestern Douglas County. From near Glendale the creek makes a 40-mile loop northward to join the South Umpqua River near Canyonville. The distance on I-5 from Glendale to the S. Umpqua is only about 15 miles. Cow Creek is basically class 1 for the lower 20 miles below Union Creek. We had heard of a "Cow Creek Gorge" on an earlier trip and returned in the hopes of finding it. We are not sure that we did but we found a nice class 3 section with continuous action and a class 2 section. Both runs can be reached off I-5 (exit 103) through Riddle and then up Cow Creek Road.
Quarry near Perkins Creek to West Fork of Cow Creek
Class: 3 Length: 9 miles Flow: 800 cfs Character: forested Gradient: 32 fpm, PD Season: rainy
The first 5 miles of this run contains several class 3+ drops. The action is continuous as Cow Creek cuts down through a narrow valley to its flood plain above Riddle. A 20 year flood (1995) swept all debris from the river and no strainers were observed. The terrain is steep and reminds one of the adjacent Rogue River drainage. Numerous tunnels for the railroad paralleling the creek suggest the rugged past of this country. A convenient put-in is about 5 miles downstream from Glendale opposite an old rock quarry, RM 35.7. It requires a drag across the railroad tracks. The take-out is the West Fork bridge, RM 26.7.
Difficulties: Several drops in the gorge section are blind and should be scouted.
West Fork of Cow Creek to Union Creek
Class: 2 Length: 6.3 miles Flow: 1400 cfs Character: forested Gradient: 16 fpm Season: rainy
This is an easy run through steep terrain thickly wooded with manzanita, madrone, red cedar and Douglas fir. While there are plenty of clear cuts high on the slopes, lush riverside stands generally contain tall older trees. Cow Creek Road and a working railroad parallel the river but are not obtrusive. The river is broad and swift. There are a number of short drops with large standing waves and many play spots. The put in is the West Fork bridge, RM 26.7. The take out is on river left at the Union Creek bridge, RM 20.4.
New Class III rapid, "Washout" on the Lower Deschutes formed in July 1995by Jim Daly, Jim Virgin, Dave Slover
There is a new rapid, "Washout", on the Lower Deschutes in Mack Canyon. It is just below the powerline at Stecker Canyon and one quarter mile above Freebridge at river mile 8. It is easy to scout on river left and is well marked by the powerline, the flat water upstream and the noise. The rapid is Class 3 down the right. River left is guarded by a sticky looking hole; river center has a very large hole/breaking wave that looks like it would flip a raft quite easily, and probably hammer a kayaker. River right is relatively clean -- a couple of irregular waves that might flip a beginner. This gravel bar constriction type of rapid was caused by a flash flood in July of 1995. It is quite possibe the rapid will have changed over the winter.
Back to Jim's Kayak Page