This is an ideal class III river with several different sections to choose from providing opportunities for 6-8 mile day trips or longer during the times when the water is high. The rapids are closer together near the top and slowly get farther apart. A standard intermediate run and the classic whitewater section is from Horseshoe Bend to Gravel Bin, but anything above Susan Creek is good fun. The beauty is great, the isolation is good, and the season is long. This river is best after the first heavy rain in the fall and in most years lasts all the way through Memorial Day weekend. Flows start to drop after that as interest in fishing increases.
This run splits conveniently into five sections as identified by BLM and well labeled on river maps. Paddlers often combine sections or do portions of sections depending on flows and level of whitewater challenge desired. The river makes a great destination for trips where a big group can subdivide into smaller groups that paddle different segments before all coming back together in the evening. Before embarking on any section of the North Umpqua, check the BLM guidelines to avoid conflict with fishermen.
Segment 0: Soda Springs to Boulder Flat (1.25 miles)
The put-in is a little rugged for rafts but is an add on enjoyed by kayakers. This section is more continuous and a lot of fun.
Segment 1: Boulder Flat to Horseshoe Bend (6.5 miles; float time 2-3 hours)
The free-flowing Wild and Scenic North Umpqua River Corridor begins just below the Soda Springs Power House. Several trails, including the North Umpqua Trail, can be accessed from this segment. This segment is rich in geologic and natural attractions and recreational opportunities for visitors. Striking views of basalt columns and vertical volcanic spires along the river offer awesome photo opportunities.
Boulder Flat Campground which is the usual put-in for rafts and summer runs. This 6-mile long segment has five Class II+ and four Class III rapids. After Boulder Hole, the flat spots are a little longer. Be sure to stop under Marster's Bridge to play and again just above the Old Marsters Bridge abutments for the best spin spot. This section ends with a bang: Dog Wave, Puppy Wave, Happy Rock, Cardiac Arrest, and Weird Weir.
Spawning chinook salmon can be seen from September into November at the Weeping Rocks Watchable Wildlife site. Please do not disturb the fish or their spawning gravels. To avoid conflicts with fishermen, the BLM requests that boaters avoid floating from 6pm to 10am from July 1 to October 31 on this segment.
Segment 2: Horseshoe Bend to Gravel Bin (7.5 miles; float time 2-3 hours)
For whitewater exhilaration, this is the segment for adventurers and it also tends to be the busiest. This segment offers the best whitewater experience on the river. There's never a dull moment with one class IV rapid and eight Class III rapids. This segment has an average vertical drop of more than 30 feet per river mile. About half way through you pass under Panther Creek Bridge. After the long flat spot comes a short lead in known as Alligator followed by the class IV- Pinball. Just before the take-out, at Island Campground, is wave city. Save some strength for this.
To avoid conflicts with fishermen, the BLM requests that boaters avoid floating from 6pm to 10am from July 1 to October 31 on this segment.
Segment 3: Gravel Bin to Bogus Creek (5 miles; float time 2 hours)
The segment has one Class III rapid and five Class II+ rapids. This section is best in the spring when the water is higher and before the summer fish closure.
Renowned for its excellent summer steelhead fly-fishing opportunities, the Gravel Bin to Bogus river segment provides a unique challenge to anglers from all over the world. Popular since the early 1900’s, fly fishing for the elusive summer steelhead is the primary use of this segment from July through October. Over two dozen named fishing holes are found in the section near the Steamboat Creek confluence.
To protect the fly angling experience, the BLM requests that floaters avoid this segment from 6pm to 10am July 1 through July 14, and completely from July 15 through October 31 each season.
Segment 4: Bogus Creek to Susan Creek (7 miles; float time 3-4 hours)
This area offers multiple recreation opportunities from great whitewater adventures to steel head and trout fly-fishing. hiking in old-growth forests and waterfall viewing.
In this segment boaters will experience four Class III rapids and five Class 11+ rapids. The river takes on a "pool-drop" nature as the rapids are separated by long stretches of flat water.
The Class III rapids are very challenging at all flows and include a portage at Bathtub rapid at lower flows (below 1000 CFS). Rafters should scout carefully. At high flows in the spring. the rapids feature huge waves and holes that can flip a raft.
Segment 5: Susan Creek to Cable Crossing above Deadline Falls (6 miles float time 3-4 hours)
Whitewater enthusiasts looking for an easier run may enjoy this segment. There are only two Class II rapids and five Class II+ rapids with long flat sections in between.
Do not float below Cable Crossing unless you are planning to run class V Deadline Falls or scramble up the bank immediately above it. You should find it easy to recognize from the highway.
Most access the river from the downstream end from I-5 Roseburg exit 124. Follow the signs to State Highway 138 east toward the community of Idleyld Park.
Deadline Falls or Cable Crossing: Go east past Swiftwater Park (mile 22.2) and plan to take out just upstream at Deadline Falls (mile 22.6), requiring a scramble up the bank, or a little farther upstream at Cable Crossing (mile 23.1) depending on the size of your boat and how athletic you feel. The access at Cable Crossing is better for bigger boats or a group. It is easy to miss located at a short break in the guard rail where a dirt drive leaves the highway at a steep angle.
Susan Creek: Access is available at the Susan Creek Day Use Area (mile 28.6), that is separate from the Susan Creek Campground (mile 29.2). The river access for loading and unloading is straight ahead down the dirt road, but please park in the day use area parking lot after loading. If you plan to take out here, check the beach so you can recognize it as it is inconspicuous from the river.
Bogus Creek: The Bogus Creek Access (mile 34.9) has ample parking and turn around space making it a good location to leave the majority of vehicles.
Gravel Bin: Most trips either start or finish at Gravel Bin (mile 39.7). This take-out is suitable for rafts and well marked with ample parking and turn around space making it a good location to leave the majority of vehicles. You will also find a toilet and changing screens.
Panther Creek Bridge: The FR 4714 Panther Creek Bridge (mile 43.5) near Apple Creek Campground is an intermediate access point just upstream of Alligator and Pinball that kayakers can use for a short run down to Gravel Bin.
Horseshoe Bend: The Horseshoe Bend access is reached by turning off the highway at mile 46.5 onto FR 4750 and continuing 0.2 mile down to the access on river right near the campground. This is also a good lunch spot for Boulder Flat to Gravel Bin runs. Parking is limited at Horseshoe Bend so plan accordingly for your shuttle to minimize cars at this location.
Dry Creek Store: Not a river access but sometimes used as a rendevous point (mile 47.0).
Marsters: An alternate access on the east side of the bridge across the North Fork Umpqua (mile 50.1).
Boulder Flat: Enter Boulder Flat Campground (mile 52.4) and turn right following the river access signs. Parking is free if you do not take up a camp space but spaces are limited so plan ahead to minimize shuttle cars at this location.
Soda Springs: Turn onto Medicine Creek, FR 4775 (mile 55.1) and then turn left again onto Soda Springs Road. Take this road back past the dam to the power house. Just upstream of the power house is a poor trail to the pool above the tailrace.
Not sure if the links above were supposed to go to the segment descriptions I think Teresa was referencing, but the BLM has 5 of them fairly well described such as her favorite-
This would be more useful if each day stretch were listed as its own reach. I'm about to go there again as the LCCC does an annual N Umpqua weekend in the fall, and I'll take good notes. My favorite section is Boulder Flat to Horseshoe Bend for its beauty and for all the salmon that stack up there.
My group ran from Boulder Flat to Gravel Bin on 07-25-15. It was a great trip other then the IK'er who flipped in alligator thus swimming the entirety of Pinball. The flow was only 748 cfs so he escaped with only a dislocated rib. Pinball is a solid class III rapid with some -IV tendacies at the right flow. While I don't personally find a lot of challenge in many Oregon rapids having learned to boat in Idaho and an OR class 4 being an Idaho Class 3 I still respect the rating given. We would all do well not to underplay the potential risk of a rapid leading less experienced boaters to not appreciate the rating of a rapid because someone with more experience thought it was easy.
This one of my all time favorite class 3 runs. Long season, great water quality, easy access and some fun class 2 & 3. My favorite range is 1,200 to 1,800cfs. The waves are bigger and the water faster and that seems to be optimum for the waves above the Gravel Bin take-out. That being said, I wouldn't pass up a chance at a August 800cfs trip either. Be sure to look for the couple of fun playspots a short ways below and under the first bridge below the Boulder put-in.
I ran from Boulder Flat to Horseshoe Bend and from Horseshoe Bend to Gravel Bin on July 31 and Aug 1, 2005, respectively. CFS was between 730 and 700. It's a lovely river.
I would disagree with the above comment on this site: "Below 800: Class II all the way." In my opinion, a number of rapids should continue to be considered Class III at the level I had, including: Boulder Hole, Weird Weir, Toilet Bowl and the Froggers, Eiffel Tower and Pinball. And there is plenty of other II+.
Kevin Coutts, President Vancouver Kayak Club, Vancouver British Columbia
Controlled flow study of boating on the North Umpqua.
Letter regarding fire closure and request to reopen river.
River guide to the North Umpqua
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
on Umpqua, North @2. Soda Springs to Deadline Falls
OC-2, North Umpqua
North Umpqua Road Map
Soda Springs to Gravel Bin
Gravel Bin to Deadline Falls
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