Hood, West Fork - 2. Lake Branch to Punchbowl Falls

Hood, West Fork, Oregon, US


2. Lake Branch to Punchbowl Falls

Usual Difficulty III-IV+ (for normal flows)
Length 5.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 82 fpm

Confluence with Green Point Creek

Confluence with Green Point Creek
Photo by Will Conley taken 06/28/12

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-14120000 4.80 - 6.00 ft III-IV+ 00h31m 3.5 ft (too low)

River Description

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.

Permit Information

No Permit

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-06-03 15:49:50


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Punchbowl FallsN/AWaterfall

Rapid Descriptions

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 7 2019 (10 days ago)
T4eresa (153294)
Wood portage still necessary about 15 minutes downstream from launch. Climb up the steep wooded
slope on the right.
May 31 2017 (596 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
As of spring 2017, one wood portage in the first gorge (may be possible to get through at certain
water levels). Otherwise the run is clean.


Associated Projects

  • Hood River Access
    American Whitewater is committed to securing public access for the Hood River and its major tributaries.