Kalama, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
SEASON: After rain during the fall. Look for it in late October. For the longest possible trip you'll want to go during hunting season when the gates are open.
ACCESS: Take out is located at the gate below Jack's Creek. Follow Bennett's directions up Kalama River Road. You can continue up river if the gate is open (gate is open until dusk during hunting season) to a variety of putin options, depending on the length of run you desire. The gate provides access to the Weyerhaeuser Mt. St. Helen's Tree Farm. For current information call 1-866 -636-6531 (hit 2, then 2 again, and 5). I like to putin at road 7300 for a ~11 mile trip. The upper putins may be too boney at lower flows.
Fun rapids, scenic canyons, and an easy shuttle make this a great fall run. Depending on where you launch, the run starts with wide, shallow class II water. The first defined drop below Rd 7300 is a nice class III boulder garden (photo), with some decent gradient. Slowly, the run steepens and canyons up, and the rapids pick up (photo ). The rapids build to consistent class III rapids, (photo) with a nice variety of small ledges (photo) and boulder gardens (photo). Waterfalls and steep side streams add flow throughout the run (photo).
After passing under a the bridge at Wolf Creek, you are a mile or so above Double Drop. This drop can be scouted on the left, and the first drop could be arduously portaged on the left at low flows. This rapid begins with a class III lead in as the river narrows to a tight channel and a powerful ledge. Below the ledge, a midstream boulder forces a choice: left is cleanest, right will take you through some big holes. There is a long recovery pool below the drop.
Below Double Drop, class III water continues as the river gradually eases to class II as you approach the takeout.
With contributions from Brian Vogt
for additional information see: