The lower half of this section is a favorite with Portland locals for its technical character and fun surfing. The upper half is more of a novelty run with mostly easy whitewater and one big waterfall. At higher flows both runs can be combined for an enjoyable day run, however this is not recommended for those unfamiliar with the run due to the frequency of serious wood obstacles. The rock is the same volcanic duff seen in the Sandy gorge.
Runnable flows occur when the Clackamas Three Lynx gauge is 3,000-10,000 cfs, and optimal flows require a hard local rain the night prior to launching.
The section listed here is considered by locals to be two separate runs known as the Upper and Lower. Access between the two runs is anywhere you can get your boat to and from the river in the vicinity of Eagle Fern County Park, which is a fee area.
The upper section is small and mostly class II until you reach the first waterfall. This falls has a number of possible lines or can be portaged right. Below here there are a few class III+ boulder gardens before reaching Fern County park where a low head dam can be run in the middle.
On the Lower section there may be some excellent surf waves not far below the park, and the warmup whitewater is class II. The Falls and fish ladder come up within 10 minutes. Land on river right at the first concrete structure to scout or portage. The falls is more runnable with more water, generally down the right. The portage involves climbing up to an almost level carry or drag through the forest then descending one of several steep trails down to the river. Below the falls the river steepens for ~1 mile, with long complex boulder gardens of the class III variety unless the water is high. Logs accumulate in this section so a trot down the trail to scout could be indicated, depending on skill and flow. The climax is a steep rapid where the water diverts to the left around a ledge, then back to the right, sometimes called the Elbow. The road is a 5 minute walk through the forest away and some scout this section before launching.
Below this section the run becomes less continuous but still amusing with many interesting class III rapids, a few excellent surf spots, and everpresent wood obstacles. The gradient eases with the final mile+ being class I-II.
The section below Eagle Creek Road to the Clackamas has been run but not in recent years due to reports of huge log jams and a lack of whitewater.
Trip Report from Into the Outside.
1/13/2019, ran from Lower Falls to Eagle Creek Rd. with way too little water (Sandy below 1800). The huge log that has been loitering for a few years at the hard-right 1/4 or so down from the falls is now blocking the left side of the river below the corner rapid. There is a bunch of smaller wood blocking the entrance to the right-side of the next rapid so this could be hairy at higher flows especially if you have a swimmer.
Visual from the Eagle Creek Road bridge. The Clackamas gauge above Three Lynx gives an indication of the general ground saturation in the region. Local rains when the 3 Lynx gauge is over 3k assure good flows.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Upper Put-in: Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery.
Put-in for the Lower section/takeout for the Upper: Eagle Fern Park or vicinity. Creek is roadside.
Takeout for Lower: On Eagle Creek Road.
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