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Difficulty II(III)
Length 4 Miles
Flow Range 500 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 2250 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/20/2004 10:52 pm

River Description

Pourovers, surfing waves, holes, endo and cartwheel sites are packed into the section between the Back Loop Bridge and Riverside Drive just past Larry Buzzell's place. Stimulating scenery can be enjoyed by putting on at the USFS Mendenhall Lake campground (near Skater's Cabin). Drive towards the backpackers area until you see the glacier face beyond the lake on your left and a wide spot in the road. Saddle up and follow the shore on your right to the river mouth. A few large rocks and a bit of swift water mark the entry, with good eddies left and right. The water moves slowly, bending broadly to the right and broadly to the left as a few residences come into view. Most of the river goes right, but a small portion of it runs left around a large island. There are riffles here at most levels, and this bend is called "Hot Tub Rapid" after the residence on river right and shallow eddy on the same side. A large slow moving eddy on river left occurs where the channel renters the main flow. Don't let beginners drift up into the woody debris at the top of this eddy.

It is a straight shot through "Swimmers" (II) rapid into eddies left or right below the last hole. River left is the take out for beginners, and it's a short walk back to the parking area by Back Loop Bridge.

The good stuff starts just below the Back Loop Bridge. "Ayatollah" is a deep hole behind a shallow rock under the right side of the bridge. A pleasant eddy forms under the bridge behind the old bridge piling and you can rehearse your moves here. You'll enjoy nice surf wave below "Ayatollah". Ferry to river left and work your way back up to the bridge for "Side surf practice spot" and "Pop-tart" just below the bridge, on river left. A quick roll is important here as the current pushes you toward a shallow obstacle. Rafters call the big rock in the center "Whale's Tail" and it marks their move left for the upcoming action. Stay right however and secure a spot near "RBcubed" a small pourover downstream and to the right of "Whales Tail". Look at all the plastic smeared on that rock! Just dip your nose or tail in the sweet spot and elevate your mood. Work your way left to take advantage of the main series of waves "Five - 0" and "Typewriter" or push all the way to the left bank for three large pour-overs with low consequence boof potential. This is "Pinball rapid" (III). If you climb over the fence here on the left you're at Mendenhall River School. But don't go yet, "Big Leg Emma" will thrill or annoy you because of her inconsistancy. And "Little Sister" is the wave that forms up behind "Emma". Hike back up river right for another surf or proceed down to "Scott's Rocks". Eddy out above the first boulder river left, ride the pillow left of center or "thread the needle" between the two boulders below. "Scott's Rocks" are the twin slabs perpendicular to the flow in the middle of the current that create, playful zones like "Beam me up" and "the Enterprise". A tight eddy between the first boulder and the twins below is called "The class IV eddy" or "Freddy's Eddy" This is a nice place to work power and precision moves after a short attainment below "Scott's Rocks". Working the eddylines here you will find plenty of power for squirts and cartwheelage. Splat "House rock" and run center on the next drop. Note that the hydraulics river right are formed by tree stumps and old wooden pilings so use caution. Try to catch the "Persian slipper" river right, a standing wave just before the next drop. If the water is high "Snowmobile" will tantalize you, but you have to be a stong paddler to catch that ride.

At 10K CFS and above go river left under the Back Loop Bridge for "Magic Wave" and grab a ride on the steep green of "Sunbather" below House Rock.

Take out river left just below the baffled storm drain, at Melvin Park Coffee is required. Follow riverside Drive downstream Turn left at the first light, A small Mocha,extra hot will take the edge off.

Rapid Descriptions


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Ramon Imel
12 years ago

Very fine new playwave at the top of pinball. Look for the Sugarloaf shaped rock in the middle and eddy out behind it. Work your way above the rock to drop in and hold on!

default user thumbnail
Ramon Imel
13 years ago

Take out river left just below last rapid, drag across the vacant lot to Riverside Drive. Walk up and cross through Mendenhall River School out to Back Loop Bridge. Or take out river right and hike back up the Brotherhood Bridge trail to Back Loop, turn right and back to the Bridge.

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Ramon C. Imel


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1192961 06/20/04 Ramon C. Imel n/a