Sturgeon (Baraga) - C) Sturgeon Canyon: Hwy.41 to Upper Falls (0.75 miles)

Sturgeon (Baraga), Michigan, US


C) Sturgeon Canyon: Hwy.41 to Upper Falls (0.75 miles)

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 0.75 Miles
Avg. Gradient 150 fpm
Max Gradient 150 fpm

Canyon Falls

Canyon Falls
Photo of Jim McHale by Boris Glick

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04040500 250 - 600 cfs IV-V 00h54m 129 cfs (too low)
Most consider this too low, but may be ELF (Extreme Low Flow) run. (Add a comment or report if you have experience with these flows.) Gauge (171 sq.mi. drainage) is 11 miles downstream, with a few good sized tribs, so somewhat overstates flow in this reach.

River Description

Put-in is via a roadside park on Hwy.41.

Take-out is after Upper Falls (the final drop as you leave the canyon). Carry back up.

The gauge provides fairly accurate read of runnable flows.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-02-20 16:09:07

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Helmet Cam FootageN/A
0.2Warm-up WavesII+Playspot
0.4Canyon FallsIVWaterfall Photo
0.4Heart of the CanyonIII+Waterfall Photo
0.6Unnamed FallsIVWaterfall Photo
0.7Upper FallsIII+Takeout Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Helmet Cam Footage (Class N/A)

This video gives a pretty fair helment-cam sampling of the run at a very fine runnable flow.

Warm-up Waves (Class II+, Mile 0.2)

Action starts pretty mild (from put-in next to the Hwy.41 bridge). As you round a left-hand bend, things quickly build, with a couple fairly aggressive (at good flows) waves and holes. Some could be nearly full-out freesyle havens, but for what lies so near downstream.

Canyon Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.4)

Canyon Falls

Canyon Falls
Photo of Jim McHale by Boris Glick

For those with the skills and interest, and with the right flows, this is a fairly simple (though impressive-looking) drop, which puts you into the heart of the canyon.

Heart of the Canyon (Class III+, Mile 0.4)

Heart of the Canyon

Heart of the Canyon
Photo of Mike Croak by Boris Glick

The heart of the canyon contains a great series of drops, slides, and holes. We will not attempt to detail them here . . . you really need to hike/scout the whole sequence before putting on, to be aware of what you are getting into. Suffice it to say the action can be intense, and is made all the more so by being in a vertical-walled canyon. While it is possible to set safety at various points, it is not always easy to be where you need or would like to be.

Unnamed Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.6)

Unnamed Falls

Unnamed Falls
Photo of Evan St. Peter @ 300 cfs

While this drop (and the boiling pool below) look menacing, people have gone over with no momentum (backwards even!) and been 'spit out' just fine. Pay particular attention to the diagonal wave/hole in the lead-in, as it tends to be more problematic, putting you off your mark for this drop. Strongly recommend diving/driving/punching forward (so as not to present too much body-surface to the hole) so that you punch through rather than have your upright-body stop all momentum through the hole. (Or not!?)

Upper Falls (Class III+, Mile 0.7)

Upper Falls Sturgeon River

Upper Falls Sturgeon River
Photo of Rob Cadmus (Representing the UP) @ 300 cfs

Generally run to the right on a sweet bedrock slide (with a few interesting diagonal waves and holes thrown in for interest).
Take out immediately after running this and carry back up to your vehicle (or to re-run the reach)!

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