This run is characterized by big drops and an impressive canyon that can be enjoyed
nearly every day of the year. Expert paddlers flock here in the warm summer months as other creeks
become too low and this run was featured in the July/August 2005 issue of American Whitewater
Journal as one of the nation's Classic Summertime Class V Runs. With the exception of Zigzag Canyon
most of the drops on this run can be easily scouted or portaged.
If you're out for a summer run on the Green Truss the day begins with a hot sweaty
climb down into the gorge (photo). Within a few minutes you'll be bouncing off downstream enjoying the
cool waters of the White Salmon. The run begins with several fun warm-up rapids before you come to
Meatball which is the first significant drop on the run (photo). A large boulder blocks your view downstream so grab an eddy
on the left to scout the landing zone. A clean run puts you in the pool above Bob's Falls.
Bob's Falls is a fun ledge drop with a meaty hole at its base (photo). It's a good idea to set safety on
this one and if it's your first time down you'll want to scout from river left. There is another fun ledge
drop below Bob's (photo
) and you'll soon be at the pool above Big Brother.
Big Brother is a 30-foot waterfall with a small lead-in drop of no more than 2 feet
which is not vertical, followed by an approximately 27-foot vertical falls. The falls is fairly shallow on
the river left two-thirds of the drop, with a majority of the water going over the right one-third, and
then into a big hydraulic at the base of the falls with runout that flows into a cave. Running the falls
requires hitting a line to thread the needle between the cave on river right and the shallow landing zone
on river left (photo).
Although this drop is routinely run many choose to portage this rapid on river left. You can climb down
the rock face to the pool at the base of Big Brother if you want to run Little Brother or you can continue
hiking down to the base of Little Brother. Little Brother (aka The Faucet) is a great waterfall and those
who portage Big Brother will likely want to consider this drop (photo).
Next up is Double Drop which consists of a pair of ledge drops with a meaty hole at
base (photo). It's easy
to scout or portage this drop on the left. The drop itself is fairly straightforward--just hit the center
and hang on for the ride. If you can keep your boat straight you should punch out at the bottom but if
you head off course be prepared for a potentially wild ride in the bottom hole.
After Double Drop the pace eases up significantly and you can take the time to enjoy the
canyon. Springs pour into the river and water beautiful hanging gardens that carpet the canyon walls.
As you approach Cheesegrater things start to pick up again (photo). It's time to get ready for the crux
rapids of the Green Truss run. While the big drops that characterize the first third of the run can be
easily scouted and portaged you must be prepared to run Zigzag Canyon.
Zigzag conists of two long rapids, Upper Zigzag and Lower Zigzag both of which are
approximately 200 yards long and require you to run a challenging gauntlet of ledges and holes. They
are the type of rapids where it's difficult to offer any assistance so you're pretty much on your own until
you get to the recovery pool at the bottom. You can scout Upper Zigzag from river right. Stay away
from the wall along river left and plan out your course to get to the pool that's visible at the bottom of
the drop (photo). Once
you make your way safely to the pool at the base of Upper Zigzag (photo) grab the eddy on river left and
hop out for a scout of Lower Zigzag. To run Lower Zigzag you need to negotiate the ledge and hole at
the top and then work your way over to the clean line down left of center (photo).
Once you make it through Lower Zigzag you can celebrate a successful trip through the
most challenging drops of the run and enjoy the remaining rapids. This section is also known as the
Oreletta run, the name of the family that owns property on river right that paddlers have used for
access to the class IV rapids downstream of Zigzag Canyon. There are several fun drops packed into
this section which are now being run by commercial rafts at lower flows. This section finishes up with
the Flume before you come to BZ Falls which is probably the most challenging drop on the run. Most
folks pull out on river right to portage. You can work your way down the class III entrance to BZ Falls or
just pull out above this for the safe portage around the falls. Make sure you know where it is as you
would not want to unintentionally float into BZ Falls (photo).
After the portage of BZ Falls you can hop onto the boardwalk on river right or seal
launch into the pool below. Continue downsteam to run Maytag which is the first drop on the BZ run. From here your choice is to
use the primary take-out which requires a hike up out of the gorge on a good trail but that often
requires you to fight against the commercial traffic headed down into the gorge. Alternatively you can
just continue on downstream for another 7 miles to enjoy the fun class III rapids and finish off with a
run of Husum Falls.
Follow Hwy. 14 along the Columbia River and at mile 63.6 take Alt Hwy 141 north (this
turn is a couple miles to the west of the Hood River bridge across the Columbia). Continue 2.2 miles to
the junction with Hwy. 141 and then follow this north across the river at Husum Falls (located at Hwy.
141 mile 8.8). To reach the primary take-out continue north to the Forest Service launch site (acquired
from private ownership with the help of the Trust for Public Land) at Hwy. 141 mile 12.8 in the town of
BZ (just north of the turn-off for Glenwood Rd.).
To reach the put-in head north on Hwy. 141 to mile 17.1 and turn down the private road
leading to the Green Truss Bridge. This is an unloading zone. Once you are ready, take the car back out
to Hwy. 141 and turn right headed north for a short distance to the first local road that turns off the
left. Park here and walk back to the put-in. Following these guidelines is important to preserve the
access to the river that SDS Lumber allows from their property. The trail down into the gorge heads
along the downstream river right side of the bridge. It's a short walk to the cliff where you will likely
want to lower your boats to the river.
Private access. Inquire locally before using.
PSA: Please do not access the White Salmon directly above the Zig Zags. The landowner of that property is extremely pissed at the entire paddling community right now and is threatening legal action. There is also reason to believe he has intentions and the necessary influence to shut down other access points along the river such as the Truss put in. Please only use the creek bed downstream of Lower Zig Zag to access the Orletta. Spread the word. Thank you
The closest real-time gauge is White Salmon at Underwood. Many paddlers, however, go by the staff gauge at Husum (it's mounted to the bedrock wall downstream river right of the Hwy. 141 bridge at Husum Falls). On this gauge flows just above 2' provide a fun run at the lower range of flows. The difficulty begins to increase and the run is more committing as flows exceed 3'. An estimate of this gauge based on correlation to the Underwood gauge can be found on Pat Welch's site. The estimate is pretty good but not always accurate. The decision to paddle should be based on personal inspection of the flow.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Above Double Drop
Looking back up at Lower Zigzag
Lower Zigzag from upstream
Looking back up at Upper Zigzag
Looking down Upper Zigzag
Drop below Bob's
Meatball from below
Green Truss Bridge
Upper Zig Zag
Entrance to Upper Zig Zag
Oliver finishes Upper Zig Zag
Lower Zig Zag
The Halloween Huck Crew
Tom running Big Brother
Bryan @ Bob's Falls
Bryan @ Big Brother
Mike @ Big Brother
Billy @ Big Brother
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Brought to you through the efforts of Wet Planet Whitewater and the Headwaters Institute, the White Salmon River RiverFest and Symposium will take place this weekend (Saturday May, 30th). American Whitewater will be presenting an update on Condit Dam removal and river restoration efforts in the region as part of the morning symposium. River races and a great party will take place in the afternoon and evening.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!