Hood, West Fork, Oregon, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||82 fpm|
|HOOD RIVER AT TUCKER BRIDGE, NEAR HOOD RIVER, OR|
|usgs-14120000||4.80 - 6.00 ft||III-IV+||00h31m||3.5 ft (too low)|
The West Fork is the best Class IV run in the Columbia Gorge. It's known for its fun Class IV rapids that build up in intensity. Most of the rapids occur in 2 basalt gorges that are spectacularly beautiful to journey through.
Start at the confluence of the West Fork and the Lake Branch of the Hood River. About a mile downstream is the first basalt gorge with a number of classic rapids. Below the gorge, the rapids are more spread out and tend to be gravel bars. You'll want to pay attention because about half-way down this stretch is a mandatory portage around a fish ladder. You'll see a big horizon line and will want to eddy out on the left for the portage.
Below the fish ladder, the rapids pick up in intensity. The most difficult rapid on the West Fork is about a half-mile below the fish ladder and is a long, complex rapid. Rapids come in quick succession after that, and the last one is just below a high bridge spanning the Hood River.
Take out above Punchbowl Falls, a 10-foot drop into a gnarly hole. It is runnable, but the hole is deep and a swim here would be no fun. This is an amazingly beautiful and powerful place, with beautiful basalt walls, views of Mount Hood, and awesome wildflowers in the spring. It's a nice hike up the hill to the parking lot.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|