Check out the description, with pictures, in Jason Rackley's excellent Oregon Kayaking site.
Using the same road OregonKayaking and the Dinsdale brothers used (NF - 201), we parked where a spur road branched off to the north about a half mile above where the Dinsdale began their descent into the canyon. We encountered many wood portages in the upper region. Things cleaned up a little after Big Twelve Creek comes in on the left, but the current wood situation resulted in continued portaging in the crux section. There were a few fun rapids in here, but they were hard to enjoy as we were running short on daylight. Razorback falls is indeed difficult to scout, best run center right, it’s the first horizon line after Crunch N’ Munch. Dinsdaba's description is spot on, its a long day of class V paddling/adventuring. We had 2,000 cfs on the LNF@Mehama, which we felt was about the minimum flow.
We parked on a ridge road once there was access to the south, down towards the creek. We put in far above Rackley, after hiking down ~1700 vertical feet over about a half mile. The hiking started very steep, but gradually mellowed and we encountered no cliffs.
This made for a 4-4.5 mile run.
Flow on the LNS @ Mehama was 4-5,000 for the duration of our run.
At the put-in, this felt like the low side of medium, but after the major confluences (around the start of the crux section), it felt like the high side of medium.
Character was continuous, with available eddies. Stay sharp for wood, of course. The paddling was surprisingly full-bladed and fun. A noticeably steeper cascade with a narrow line through pitons, shallow LZs and a nasty corner pocket (we walked) marks the beginning of the crux section. The crux consists of about 10 big drops. Mostly they go; scout and portage judiciously. We walked 3 of them, including Crunch 'N Munch, which is toward the end of the crux.
All in all, there was a lot of wood to contend with, but it was mostly manageable. The continuous in-between and boogie water was also mostly fairly high quality and in the III-IV range. At the end of the run, it felt like a looong day of paddling. We agreed that if access was better this would be regarded as a classic.
Class V for sure.
No gage. Oregon Kayaking recommends using the Little North Santiam as a guide. They figure it should be running about 2000 cfs.
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.
on Elkhorn Creek @to confluence with Little North Santiam
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