Paddled this stretch today for the first time and there are some things I'd like to add. First there is a low head dam that is right after the second bridge not menitoned on this site. A guy we saw at the putin told us about it. It was running at 9500cfs today and at that level I would not want to be anywhere near that dam. If you pull out right after the second bridge you can portage on river left. I don't know about other levels but at this level there was no more whitewater after SR 21 out of Parksville. There were no strainers to worry about at this level but there were no eddys either. A swim at this level could easily turn out to be epic. It was about 3 times higher than any description listed on this site. The waves were almost continuous from Hwy 283 to SR 21 with only a few short breaks. Some of the holes were really big. Most were avoidable but some were not. Scouting really wan't an option.
The low flood comment is a reference to William Nealy's description of river stages, not the weather service flood stage. When Stevens creek is running well the water is into the trees along the banks. The gauge is several miles downstream from the whitewater section and about 1.5 miles downstream of the confluence with Turkey Creek, a similar sized creek. It reads about 4 hours behind. I have been paddling Stevens Creek for about 18 years and have done it more than 100 times by now. It's a good idea to keep a watchful eye for wood, which is common but usually not too hard to avoid. These are my impressions of river levels:
350 cfs- barely navigable
600-1000 cfs- a little play.
1000-1500 cfs- starting to be fun.
1500-2000 cfs- fun, some holes start to get munchy.
2000-3000 cfs- getting big, some holes are pretty nasty, some surf waves need to be caught on the fly. General the best surfing level.
Above 3000 CFS the wave trains become bigger and longer and it's hard to rescue swimmers because the current is very fast and the eddies are few and far between (also in the trees).
8,500 CFS is the highest that I have run it, though I know people who have been on it at 17,000 and they said the wave trains were similar to the Ocoee.
The dam at the put in is runnable down the far left side diagonal slide. That chute was clogged with large trees for several years but is currently open (1/2016).
The white water run is a 5 mile section between Rte 283 outside Plum Branch and Upper Mill road near Parksville. The runnable levels should be adjusted to a minimum of around 700 CFS and an unknown maximum though it has been done at 17,000 CFS recently.
Turkey Creek (Key Bridge) to Stevens Creek (HWY 23)
River Height: 2.61
This is a slightly different route than shown on the map. We put in at Key Bridge
A little scraping, but not bad. About halfway between Key Bridge and the Stevens Creek intersection there was a downed tree that we had to portage around. A few small rapids on the run .. some of these may be non-existent with more water.
If the water level was much lower - it would be difficult in some spots but it's runnable at this level. We met another group that put in further up turkey creek at the 283 Bridge. They said there were no obstructions on that section.
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