Clear Creek, West Fork, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||392 fpm|
|Max Gradient||392 fpm|
|WEST FORK CLEAR CREEK ABV MOUTH NR EMPIRE, CO|
|usgs-06716100||100 - 350 cfs||V||01h06m||21.5 cfs (too low)|
This run wastes no time getting going and immediately drops into a mini-gorge with possibly the easiest waterfall in all of Colorado, Coors Falls (15Â), at the top. Fortunately two technical ledges immediately below keep it from being a total snooze, the second one should be run in the far left slot. Below Coors Falls youÂll keep real busy the next Â¼ mile in hyper-continuous Class IV/V- boulder gardens until you reach a river-wide logjam just above the Z-turn Gorge. Portage around the logjam on the left and scout Z-Turn as best you can, you have to crawl right up to the edge and peek over the 50 foot cliffs boxing in this rapid. This zigzagging little gorge is distinctly steeper at the top and bottom, with a very short lull in the middle. The upper rapid is more technical and difficult to run with out getting turned around backwards at some point. Just downstream from the Z-turn Gorge is I-40 Rapid, the only rapid visible directly from the road. This rapid is the takeout for the short run or the last chance to easily bail if youÂre having a bad day, from here to the takeout the creek is a very long and steep scramble from the highway. From I-40 Rapid the manky boulder garden type rapids continue for about a mile until Gun Shot Rapid. This is the hardest drop on the run, and comes up on you very quickly, so exercise extreme caution until youÂve figured out where it is. This rapid got itsÂ name because the river right side of is private land and the landowner is not above firing a few rounds into the air to get your attention! The scout and portage is best on river right but you can manage without too much trouble on river left. Just downstream from Gun Shot there is a short steep little drop that should be run on the left. From here to the takeout watch out for some river wide logs and dense willows.
For pics of the West Fork and many other Colorado classics check out my Webshots photo album.
More good pics at www.juliekeller.com
To get there: The put-in is located about 3 miles upstream of Empire. Look for the big yellow "Avalanche Zone" signs on the highway. The put-in is located at a dirt pullout near the "End Avalanche Zone" sign. The takeout is tricky to describe. Basically as you're heading back downriver look for the first small dirt road on the right. Head up this road about a mile, after crossing to the river right side of the creek look for another small dirt road off to the right that makes a short little round-about next to the creek. If all else fails just take out at the bridge crossing the creek.