The Bull Run has served as a short but fun class III training ground for local paddlers for many years. You can have a good time just working the rapid at the put-in or head down the short run to Dodge Park. Because flow from the Sandy River is diverted to the powerhouse which is located at the put-in, this run receives enhanced flows that extend the season. This has also made the powerhouse a popular training site where slalom paddlers have a permanent course and host an annual race.
Between 2000-4000 cfs this is a fun class IV run with some big holes and push.
The hydropower facility is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2007 and with it supplemental flows will no longer be provided. The Bull Run's loss will be the Sandy River's gain though as the water will no longer be diverted from the Sandy providing more consistent and higher flows in that river.
Continuing downstream from the powerhouse you will find half a dozen class III rapids spread out over the 2.5 miles down to Dodge Park. There are good recovery sections between each of the rapids. One can't help but wonder what lies upstream of the put-in but this section of the river is restricted access as it provides the City of Portland with municipal drinking water.
The stretch mentioned above from the reservoirs to the powerhouse is high quality class III-IV(V) whitewater, but it is off limits to boaters as it is part of an area blocked off to the public to protect the City of Portland's municipal water supply.
Not sure about optimal flows but I ran this stretch at 2300 or so today and I would say it's not a good run if you're limit is class III. If you're class IV or above then this level is great fun. Most rapids were clean down the middle, a couple nasty holes to avoid, and a little rebar thrown in to keep you on your toes. It'd be a handful in a playboat, but the surf would be GREAT! Looked as though it could be run much much lower as the river might channelize nicely. Too much higher and the waves would be pretty damn big, definitely approaching a big water feel.
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Bull Run rapid
Rapids on the Bull Run
Bull Run Slalom Course
Bull Run Powerhouse Putin
Bull Run Powerhouse Parking
Bull Run Powerhouse, River Trail
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