Lewis, E. Fork, Washington, US
2 - Sunset Falls to bl. Horshoe Falls (Falls Section)
||IV (varies with level)
Horseshoe FallsPhoto of Kathleen O'Malley by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 11/23/13 @ 750 cfs
The East Fork Lewis is best known for a couple of classic waterfalls and a great one mile
sequence of rapids that make it a local favorite.
The start of the run is Sunset Falls. Many use the access 0.6 mile upstream to get a few warm-up
strokes in. Alternatively, if you want to get to business right away you can pull out along the
road above Sunset Falls and start hucking.
For Sunset Falls, the middle line is generally preferred above 1000 cfs and the left line at
lower flows. You can park at the Forest Service day use site, use the restrooms, and scout all
the options before your run. This convenient access makes it easy to get to both the top and
bottom of the falls and it's one of the best sites in the entire region to practice waterfall
running. It's common to run a couple laps of the falls.
About half a mile below Sunset Falls the fun begins with five named rapids in a half mile
section. First up is Hippie John's Boulder Garden which is an easy boat scout. Sky Pilot is
next which is a more congested boulder garden you will probably want to scout from the left. Take
the right or left line at the top depending on flows and then power through the hole on the
As you see gorge walls on river right and an obvious horizon line grab the eddy on river left and
get out to scout the next two rapids: Screaming Left and Dragon's Back. Make the hard move to
the left or take the chute down the right at Screaming Left. The tight river right chute is not
an option at lower flows. If you don't like the looks of Screaming Left it is an easy portage
on river left. After a short recovery pool, Dragon's Back comes up quickly as the next rapid
where the main current flows from river right to left and into a hole that is best avoided. To
avoid the hole drive hard right and then head even further right.
Below Dragon's Back the river flows through a beautiful little gorge section that ends with
John's Swimming Hole which is marked by an obvious horizon line and a bedrock wall at the
bottom of the drop as the river makes a hard turn to the right. Pull out on river right to scout
or portage John's Swimming Hole. The line is once again a hard right move as you paddle over
the final pitch of the drop to avoid what is typically a river-wide hole at the base of the drop.
Use caution with the headwall at the bottom of this drop. The full current of the river slams
into this wall and boaters have found themselves trapped against the wall.
Once you are out of the gorge the river flows through about 2 miles of easy class II and III
boogie water and additional tributaries pump up the flow. The last rapid awaits as you approach
the horizon line above Horseshoe Falls. You can pull out to scout the falls from the large
bedrock platform on river left. The standard line is to take door two (counted from river right)
and line up for the nice autoboof flake at the center. The more challenging class V river right
line has been run but is generally not recommended. Another option is down river left but bring
the elbow pads for that line. As with most of the rapids on this run, Horseshoe Falls is bordered
by private property. For all drops on the run paddlers need to be cool and stay within the active
channel when portaging or scouting. Unlike Sunset Falls which is at Forest Service recreation
site, there are no options to hike back for a second lap over the falls and you won't find a
good portage option.
From the base of Horseshoe Falls, you will enjoy another mile of class II and III boogie water to
From Moulton Falls Park just south of Yacolt, WA, head up Sunset Falls Road (Forest Road 42). At
mile 3.6 you will reach the first pull-out providing access for kayakers and steelhead fisherman.
You will find space for a couple cars in an unimproved parking spot off the highway. Another
parking option can be found at mile 4.2.
To reach the put-in continue up to mile 7.5 and the Forest Service Sunset Falls Recreation Site.
A Northwest Forest Pass is required if you are parking for more than 15 minutes. A nice network
of trails provide easy scouting access. You can put-in above the falls but a popular option is to
continue up the road to mile 8.1 and a dispersed campsite where a 100 yard trail heads to the
river and a good access point with a nice eddy.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-11-24 21:47:01