This trip typically starts out at South Umpqua Falls, but putting in 2 miles higher adds on a section with the most action. This includes a big class V boulder garden and 2 more slides. These are described in more detail here.
If you put in at South Umpqua Falls, there is a parking fee. Scout the falls from the highly established viewing areas. There are two standard line options for the falls. At high water the left side route is a long and straight forward slide, though at low water it is pretty scrapey and not as enjoyable. If flows are low, the middle-right side is most enjoyable, here a pothole part way down the slide creates a fun 10-15 drop. At high water this pot hole is to be avoided.
Take note, but don't sweat the absolute far right wall. The manmade structure here is incredibly dangerous, where the falls drops 10 feet into an enclosed retaining wall for a fish ladder. Fortunately, with knowledge of the hazard, only incompetence would cause a boater to end up over there. It is easy to make multiple runs down South Umpqua Falls by walking up the river right bank through the recreation area.
Below South Umpqua Falls is a long stretch of easy floating, the doldrums are finally broken by an interesting chute along the left wall that is more exciting as flows increase. Another long stretch of class I & II are broken up by yet another unique South Umpqua Rapid, Hand of God. Hand of God is a ten foot ramp. At high flows the center hole is enormous and very sticky, absolutely to be avoided. Fortunately an ultra fun boof exists on the left. It is easy, and recommended, to lap this drop to your hearts content.
Below Hand of God are more chances to take in the scenery. After another couple miles of easy floating comes Campbell Falls. Campbell Falls has two obvious line options, a vertical drop on the right, or a chaotic ramp down the left. Both lines have been taken, though right is far more common and easier. Laps are again easy here, so take advantage of the situation and dial in that boof on the right or brace on the left.
The take out is half a mile downstream at Boulder Creek Campground.
Here is a Trip Report from Oregon Kayaking.
The river has a wide range of runnable flows, and different lines are available at different flows. High water is nice, as it speeds up the easy stuff in between the drop, and doesn't make the rapids too hard. Here is a video at a healthy medium and rising flow.
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"Hand of God"
S. Umpqua Falls
South Umpqua Falls
Campbell Falls - Left Side
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This week, Oregon House Bill 2835 re-passed the Oregon House on a 52-7 vote. Having earlier cleared the Senate, the bill now awaits a signature from the Governor to be signed into law. For decades, opportunities to protect and improve the ability of the public to access and legally use waterways for recreation have seen minimal progress, while efforts to severely limit access have been a consistent threat. Oregon House Bill 2835 is a pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon, and the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the state legislature.
Time is running out for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) to consider the South Umpqua for designation as a State Scenic Waterway, but it’s not too late. Your voice can help support the agency in taking steps to protect this river in 2018. With its free-flowing waters and exceptional scenic, natural and recreational values, the South Umpqua meets the criteria for designation as a State Scenic Waterway.
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