White Salmon - 3 - Green Truss Bridge to BZ Corners

White Salmon, Washington, US


3 - Green Truss Bridge to BZ Corners

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 4.9 Miles
Avg. Gradient 132 fpm

Big Brother

Big Brother
Photo of Ross "The Boss" Henry by Joey Baranski taken 07/04/06 @ ~3'

River Description

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 the 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.

Additional Information

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-12-04 05:25:47


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Big BrotherVWaterfall Photo
0.0Double DropVPhoto
0.0BZ FallsVWaterfall Photo
0.0Orletta AccessN/AAccess
0.0Little BrotherIV+Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Big Brother (Class V)

Billy @ Big Brother

Billy @ Big Brother
Photo of Billy Jones by Scott Collins taken 05/13/03 @ 3.5ft

Double Drop (Class V)

Double Drop

Double Drop
Photo of Conor Kelly by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 07/09/06 @ 2.25' @ Husum

BZ Falls (Class V)

BZ Falls

BZ Falls
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/07/06 @ 1650 cfs @ Underwood

Orletta Access (Class N/A)

Private access. Inquire locally before using.

Little Brother (Class IV+)

Little Brother

Little Brother
Photo of Megi Morishita by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 07/09/06 @ 2.25' @ Husum

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Associated Projects

  • Columbia River Gorge (OR & WA)
    Several rivers in Oregon and Washington were protected under the 1986 Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area Act.
  • Volcano Country (OR/WA)
    The rivers of Volcano Country within and surrounding the Gifford Pinchot National Forest represent some of the nation's most spectacular whitewater resources.
  • White Salmon Restoration (WA)
    American Whitewater has been engaged in a long-term effort to protect and restore one of the Pacific Northwest's most spectacular year-around whitewater rivers.

Associated News


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November 2018