The Wilson parallels Highway 6, a major state highway between Portland and Tillamook, and much of the river is visible from the road. The rock is basalt and the channels are mostly deep, with an occasional cobble bar section where wood can hang up. The Wilson is popular with fishermen and relations between fishing and boating populations have been strained: be diplomatic and give them lots of room. The character of the river changes dramatically with different flows.
At 1,100-2,000cfs this section has good strong currents, nice fast ferries, eddy moves and attainments, and some excellent surfing waves and holes. It is one of the best class III skills runs in the region and would be suitable for slalom training. It does not feel low! It has giant eddies and good eddy service for lots of interesting smallish playspots. It's passable below 1,100 but the surf waves mostly disappear and one cobble bar gets shallow.
Between 2000-3000 the Wilson develops funny water (seams, boils and whirlpools) in most rapids, complete with whirlpool eddies and converging plates of water that try to eat smaller boats. Swims can be long and oxygen deprived. There are also a few large holes, and a few tremendous playspots. While still runnable it is less useful as a skill builder and more of a survival run for the class III paddler. Above 3,000cfs and more it becomes quite continuous for long sections making the required skill level more like class IV. The Wilson is at 2,000-4,000 is an excellent training stream for a person who wants to paddle the Grand Canyon.
Rafters tend to enjoy this run at higher flows than kayakers because they are less affected by the funny water. Hollywood develops the biggest wave train on the river at around 6,000 cfs, plenty big enough to flip 16 footers end for end.
The put-in is at Highway 6 milepost 22.6 at the Jones Creek Day Use Area. Turn off the highway and cross the bridge. The day use area is on the downstream river right side of the bridge.
There are several possible takeouts making it possible to do shorter play runs or a longer float. From 1100-2000cfs the run from Jones Creek to the Footbridge is a great 2+ mile play/skills run finishing with a scenic class III+ gorge (check for wood from a highway pullout while running shuttle). From 1400 up excellent play continues to Jordan creek making for a 4 mile run, with possible access on river left immediately below Jordan's confluence, or river right at the next bridge. There is more excellent play downstream from Jordan which is best developed at 3,000-5,000cfs and suitable for class IV paddlers in playboats. Continuing the whole 8 miles to milepost 15 means you won't have time to work every feature, but at lower flows it's is a nice class III run for folks who don't play as much.
The Tillamook gauge is 11.5 miles downstream from the Jordan Creek and may not reflect recent rains. Take the weather into account before launching.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Jones Creek Bridge
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