Sandy, Oregon, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||40 fpm|
|SANDY RIVER NEAR MARMOT, OR|
|usgs-14137000||800 - 3000 cfs||III-IV||00h34m||518 cfs (too low)|
This is an incredible piece of river flowing through a beautiful gorge right at Portland's doorstep. In October 2002 American Whitewater signed the Settlement Agreement resulting in the removal of Marmot Dam in 2007 and restoration of this river for fish, wildlife, and recreation. We are continuing to work with our partners to realize the full potential of this spectacular river as Bureau of Land Management develops the management plan for lands previoulsy owned by Portland General Electric that have been transferred to public ownership. This is a great run but it's a good idea to get recent beta from the locals as there are a couple spots where log hazards can create issues.
From the Marmot Dam site the river flows through straight forward whitewater until you come to '64 Logjam where remants of an old log jam still stick up from the channel and can occassionally collect debris. Many boaters use the trail that allows you to put-in just below this rapid which shortens the run to include the best section of whitewater in the gorge.
The river disappears into a magical river gorge with hanging gardens that drape down the sides of the bedrock walls. The first major drop known as Boulder Rapid will be obvious as you approach. You have a couple options (either down the left or the right) depending on flows, the current wood situation, and your comfort level. The right line is more of a boat scout or you can check out the left line from the boulders on river left. If you want to portage you can scramble along these boulders on river left.
Rasp Rock is the next significant rapid where the river rushes over boulders with some holes you'll have to negotiate. The river narrows down here and wood has been known to collect in the slots at the bottom of the rapid.
Drain Hole comes up next and if it's your first run, this drop is sure to make you a bit nervous. There is a generous eddy upstream of the rapid but the river appears to race down the left and disappear in the narrow slots between boulders. These slots have been known to collect logs. You can scout or portage from the gravel bar on river right but the line is to start down the left and then make the hard move all the way over to river right as you ride the current around on the upstream side of the boulders. The drop is easier than it looks but the hazard factor is significant so be sure you're clear on the line and what you need to do.
You will recognize Revenue Bridge Rapid, the last major drop as the bridge starts to come into view. Be warned that if you try to scout this drop from the bridge at the take-out, it will look a whole lot bigger once you're in the middle of the rapid. The gravel bar on the left gives you the best view of the drop if you want to scout. You have a couple different options depending on flows and how much action but the key is to figure out how you'll negotiate the holes in the bottom half of the drop. Once you make it through this rapid the take-out on river left on the downstream side of the bridge.
From Highway 26 in Sandy turn north onto Ten Eyck Rd. Follow this road 1.9 miles down into the Sandy gorge and the Revenue Bridge. This bridge is the take-out where a trail leads up from the river on the downstream river left side. Parking is extremely limited and local landowners have complained about the congestion--plan to meet and consolidate vehicles somewhere in the town of Sandy and be quick and efficient with your load and unload. Don't block driveways or tear up the shoulder. A few parking spots are available by heading back up the hill a few hundred yards to the intersection of Ten Eyck Road with Kubitz Road.
To reach the put-in continue on Ten Eyck Rd. another 0.2 mile and turn right onto SE Marmot Rd. Head 4.1 miles to the BLM access road at 48770 SE Marmot Rd. Turn right onto this road and head 1.3 miles down to a small pullout at a gated road (just before the barn). Walk a short distance down this road, cross the old canal, and then take the trail to the left that drops into the gorge. This access puts you in right at the start of of the gorge but it's a bit of a scramble down the bank. For the full run and easier access follow the BLM access road 2 miles from SE Marmot Rd. to its end at the Marmot Dam which is now managed by the BLM as river access. BLM has been working on site management and access and the last segment of the road may be gated requiring a 15 minute walk in.
Fact sheet on dam removals scheduled for the Pacific Northwest.