Santiam, N. - 2. Big Cliff Dam to Packsaddle Park


Santiam, N., Oregon, US

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2. Big Cliff Dam to Packsaddle Park

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)
Length 4.7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 26 fpm

River boarding North Santiam Narrows


River boarding North Santiam Narrows
Photo of Docta P by FaceLevel.com taken 07/04/05 @ 990 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
NORTH SANTIAM RIVER AT NIAGARA, OR
usgs-14181500 800 - 3200 cfs III-V 00h19m 5060 cfs (too high)


River Description

This is a beautiful section of river just downstream of Big Cliff Dam with two rapids of note. The Narrows is encountered within the first mile and can be scouted on river right. Niagara is a narrow slot further downstream that can be scouted from Niagara County Park. Just prior to the take-out the river pours over a deadly fish collection dam that must be portaged on the right.

 A river description and photos are available from Oregon Kayaking.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-02-26 06:14:20

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-58.0Big Clif DamPhoto
-57.6Big Clif Dam put-inPutin Photo
-56.6The NarrowsIV+Photo
-55.3NiagaraIV
-54.0Lowhead DamPortage Hazard Photo
-53.8Packsaddle Park take-outTakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Big Clif Dam

Big Cliff Dam

Big Cliff Dam
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 05/07/07

Flows from Big Clif Dam regulate discharge on this reach.

Big Clif Dam put-in

Big Clif Dam put-in

Big Clif Dam put-in
Photo of Jennie Goldberg by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 11/10/07 @ 2650 cfs

This run starts below Big Clif Dam.

The Narrows (Class IV+, Mile -56.6)

The Narrows

The Narrows
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 11/10/07 @ 2650 cfs

Right around 2500 cfs is a nice level for this rapid. This is one of those drops that becomes more technical and hazardous as flows drop but cleans up as flows increase.

Niagara (Class IV, Mile -55.3)
Niagara is just a stretch of calm water as flows decrease but as the flow builds and the river tries to squeeze through this narrow slot in the bedrock, the boils can become very chaotic.

Lowhead Dam

Lowhead Dam

Lowhead Dam
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 11/10/07 @ 2650 cfs

This dam forms an extreme hazard just before the take-out and must be portaged on river right.

Packsaddle Park take-out

Packsadde Park boat ramp

Packsadde Park boat ramp
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 11/10/07 @ 2650 cfs

A good boat ramp provides river access at this county park.


User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 7 2015 (753 days ago)
noexit33 (153224)
There is a log right after the river narrows at Niagara. Kayaks could probably just roll
underneath, but rafts can't, so you will have to pull out on the left and portage - line the boat
through The construction project on the lowhead dam is also underway. This run will probably be
closed during the week, but we went on a Saturday and didn't have any problems. I didn't see any
signs alerting to the closure.
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EDIT: As of 2014 the log is gone and construction on the dam is complete.
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