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Difficulty III-V
Length 4.7 Miles
Flow Range 800 - 3200 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 1570 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/15/2019 12:32 am

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Big Clif Dam

Class - Mile - -58
Flows from Big Clif Dam regulate discharge on this reach.

Big Clif Dam put-in

Class - Mile - -57.6
This run starts below Big Clif Dam.

The Narrows

Class - IV+ Mile - -56.6
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.


Class - IV Mile - -55.3
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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

Class - N/A Mile - -54

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

Packsaddle Park take-out

Class - Mile - -53.8
A good boat ramp provides river access at this county park.


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Jacob Cruiser
11 months ago

June 2018: The log in the previous comment is gone. Keep an eye out for wood in the boulder gardens leading up to where the river pinches down at Niagara, there were a few large pieces strewn about that appeared mobile.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




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Army Corps Proposes to Close Section of North Santiam River (OR) for Two Years

Thomas O'Keefe

The Army Corps of Engineers has just released a Draft Environmental Assessment to rebuild the Minto Fish Collection Facility on the North Santiam River. Most boaters know this facility as the place with the hazardous low head dam between Niagara County Park and Packsaddle County Park on the river. The project to rebuild the facility, which would keep the existing dam in place, would result in a two year closure of the river from Niagara to Packsaddle. The current proposal is to build a portage trail that would accommodate kayaks. It is unclear if this would accommodate rafts. Those who use this river are encouraged to provide public comment.


Thomas O'Keefe


Matt Muir


Jacob Cruiser


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1196588 11/20/09 Thomas O'Keefe
1191345 07/06/02 n/a n/a
1210852 01/15/19 Jacob Cruiser photo id
1199292 02/26/11 Thomas O'Keefe copy edits