Klamath, California, US/Oregon, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||40 fpm|
|Max Gradient||90 fpm|
|KLAMATH RIVER BLW JOHN C.BOYLE PWRPLNT, NR KENO,OR|
|usgs-11510700||1000 - 3300 cfs||III-IV+||00h25m||1730 cfs (running)|
The Upper Klamath flows from Upper Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon to Copco Reservoir in Northern California. The Hell's Corner section starts at JC Boyle Powerhouse and ends at Copco Reservoir. The powerhouse is located about 30 miles from Klamath Falls and 50 miles from Ashland.
The Upper Klamath flows through a secluded canyon with gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife, and a lot of whitewater. The first 5 miles are relatively easy with class II and III rapids for warm up. The 7 miles that follow are known as Hell's Corner Gorge! The rapids are more frequent and they are long. Many people refer to the Upper Klamath as continuous in nature however; it is a pool drop river. The difficulty increases due to the length of the rapids, the numerous 90 degree blind corners and the brown water that the rocks are camouflaged by.
The rocks create the majority of the hazards mainly pins and nasty swims. At high water these hazard lessen however the Upper Klamath doesn't wash out it just gets bigger, and develops a mean push over 3000 cfs.
On the fun side the Klamath offers some play on the fly, 6-8 foot haystack waves, and 3-4 foot pile on friendly holes!
The Upper Klamath is a remote river and has little access.
Spring Island Launch is the main put-in about 1/4 mile below the powerhouse. There is a trip registration box, pit toilets, gauge, and a practice eddy. Overnight camping at the Spring Island Launch is prohibited. Campers should stay at Topsy Campground located along Boyle Reservoir just upstream. For those that wish a back woods camping experience a rough 3 mile drive past Spring Island put-in down the jeep road along the river leads to the BLM camps. Outhouse toilets and fire pits are available.
Frain Ranch is an alternative put-in that shortens the trip by about 5 miles. Frain Ranch is a great place to camp however there are no facilities. There use to be a composting toilet that BLM had to close due to vandalism. Most campsites have approved fire rings. Know the fire regulations before you build a fire. There are 2 main places where boaters put in at Frain. Where ever you put in you are about 10 minutes above Caldera Rapid.
Stateline Access is the first takeout on river left after the gorge and is a popular place to take out for those that put in at Frain Ranch. There is camping and during the summer a port-o-potty. Access #6 is a short distance downstream on river left and is the take-out typically used by commercial outfitters because it comes at the end of the big whitewater.
Access #1 is located at the beginning of Copco Reservoir on river left and is the primary take-out for most boaters. There is no camping at Access #1 there is a port-o-potty. The take-out is easy to recognize because you will be entering the reservoir and will see the first couple homes that are part of the Copco community in the distance.
There are few shuttle services for the Upper Klamath. For trips starting at Spring Island and ending at Stateline or #1 a shuttle driver is recommended. Try calling one of the raft companies a couple days in advance if you are looking for a shuttle service they can typically recommend a raft guide or shuttle driver they use who is not working that day. From Spring Island to either of the take-outs the shuttle is approximately 100 miles. Please refer to the shuttle map to plan your trip.
The Klamath Canyon is rich with Wild West history. The main stage coach route from Yreka to Klamath Falls traveled up the south side of the canyon which is now the Topsy Grade. Along the road are small history markers that tell the tails of the ranchers and stage coach robberies.
The primary industry used to be logging the large ponderosa pine. After cutting the trees loggers would slide them down a long chute to the river where they could be floated down stream to the mill. The remains of the Pokegama log chute can still be seen by those with a keen eye.
By visiting the Frain Ranch all sorts of historic relics can be found that tell the tail of the hardships and rewards Martin Frain must have gone through while he was homesteading the area.
The water rights issues of the Upper Klamath are complicated and seemingly endless. Water is needed both upstream and downstream in a basin that is currently in a drought.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|6.5||Hells Corner (upper)||IV+|
|6.8||Hells Corner (lower)||IV+|
|9.0||Snag Island (right side)||III|
|9.0||Snag Island Falls (left side)||III|
|9.9||High Side Rock||III|
Caldera is Spanish for the boiling caldron. Boaters know it as the gateway to Hell, Hells Corner Gorge that is. From hear to Stateline Falls the whitewater action is nearly constant. Caldera changes quite a bit between 1 and 2 generator flows. To see where the current is going and which rocks need to be avoided a scout from river left is recommended.
The large hole 20 yards into this rapid gets very large at 2 generators. The rock just below this hole is known as the ÂMushroom RockÂ running to the left or right of Mushroom are both standard runs.
Caldera is a long class IV rapid and scouting its entire length is difficult and not very practical. Scout just the upper portion since the difficult moves are all befor the "Mushroom Rock".
Klamath River Restoration Public Comment Period Open (OR/CA)
October 5, 2011
Interior Recommends Removing Klamath River Dams
April 8, 2013
A River Runner’s Guide to a Free-Flowing Upper Klamath