This run is best in the summer when all else is too low. The spring-fed water is cold and clear all year long most years and the run is more fun at low water. In the winter you can drag your boat down a mile of snow and throw it into the icewater, but just try to get back to the highway from Woodruff Bridge. The run features a chance to show off before amazed spectators, a chance to scare your pants off, a probable back-flip, a rugged portage, a collapsed lava tube so narrow I saw a Stubby get stuck sideways, and a too easy runnable waterfall. This run is too short. Make sure you are confident where the portage is. If it is not obvious from the description and map you can walk the nice trail on river left first. Description: Unload at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint parking area. Be quick and discrete as boating is discouraged here. There are a couple ways to get your boat to the water, but both start with walking down the paved tourist trail. One way is to cross the foot bridge, hop over the stone wall, hump downstream through the woods and scramble down to put in on river right. Some people also do a river left seal launch underneath the footbridge, but this is discouraged if there are tourists around.
The class V rapid above the footbridge has been run but beware of the cave on river left. At the river right launch there's a class IV- drop then for the first mile plenty of fun whitewater. Don't forget to look up at the colorful rock formations and mature forest. When you come to a short pool at the top of a IV- drop with a couple of moderate-sized boulders it is time to wake up. Go ahead and run this drop and eddy out to scout Karma (class IV). The next rapid, Karma, is the crux rapid. Karma is a long, steep, rocky rapid that continues around a blind left turn and should be scouted (left). Once you commit there are few/no eddies until you come out the bottom. There are possible lines on the left, center and right, each of which might be better at a certain flow. There is an easier blind horizon below Karma and then the gradient eases up. Soon after Karma you come to a pool on a hard right bend, and then a long left bend. The portage trail for knob falls is a short distance around the left bend. If it is your first time down you might want to stop at the pool to scout and make sure you don't miss that last left eddy. Knob Falls aka Therapy Falls (class V) is typically portaged, and it is located at the apex of the bend back to the left. The portage route is on the left, up a soapy dirt slope with roots for steps and handholds, then down bedrock to a 10' seal launch, or farther over another ridge to a lower launch. The falls has been run but some who used to run it don't anymore. There have been some close calls there, so a good safety net is advisable if folks decide to run it.
Below the gorge there are a couple fun rapids finishing off with an unavoidable hole in a narrow chute that may be easiest to punch on the right. At this point the pace slows down considerably. After a mile or so of flat water you come two collapsed lava tubes that form narrow chaotic slots. The second can be scouted for logs from the take-out before starting or it can be sneaked on the left. The narrow slot on the right is more fun though, so scout. The last drop is within view of Woodruff Bridge. Find the small blind channel on the far river right and follow it to the final horizon which is an easy auto-boof. If you were to run the left channel you'd go over a falls into a narrow gorge which could result in death in full view of all the fishermen.
Take out on the rock shelf river left underneath Woodruff Bridge. Downstream from this access is a mile of flatwater before the class V Takelma gorge. The river trail (river left) provides good scouting opportunities for 3 of the 5 major rapids in the gorge. It is a 3 mile round trip hike to see Takelma gorge, for those who are considering it.
Take-out: Go north (on Oregon State Highway 62 East) past Prospect. At Highway 62 mile 51.3 turn left on USFS 68 toward Woodruff Bridge. Go 1.8 miles, cross the bridge and park.
Put-in: Go back to Highway 62. Turn left go three miles to the Natural Bridge Campground turn-off (Highway 62 mile 54.9). Turn left and follow the signs to the Viewpoint (0.7 mile from highway). Before you carry your boat down the asphalt 'trail' and over the foot bridge, walk all around and gawk at the natural bridge.
Whole run is free of wood as of May 27th, 2020. 900cfs was a really fun flow.
Big tree fallen in the middle of the longest flatwater stretch a ways above the final chutes above the take-out. It's clearly visible from a long ways off. There is a sneak route on the far left but it's tight and may not go at higher water (there was room at 500CFS). Definitely scout the drops below the flatwater stretch for wood.
Karma and indeed the entire run are free of wood in Sept 2019.
I'm going to take exception to the new 4+ rating you guys give this run and Karma. Most locals consider the Mill Ck. section below the Mill Ck. falls and Takilma gorge 4+ and with this run considerably easier and less dangerous, it should be rated class 4. No doubt at flows over a 1,000cfs Karma gets some push and probably deserves it's 4+ rating given in the rapids section, I would go even a little further and say over 1,500cfs Karma might be low class 5 (at least it looks like class 5 as I walk it at that flow). But most of the boating done on this section (I'd bet over 90%) are at summer flows of 400 to 800cfs and a class 4 or 4- rating for both karma and the run in general are more in line with it's difficulty at those flows. As for the run; sure you can make it class 5 by running the put-in rapid and Knob falls, but in the 100 or so times I've been down this run, I've seen the put-in rapid run around 20 times (and usually by the same people) and Knob Falls never. The point being; this is a class 4 run with an optional class 5 and a portage in my book.
This run and the two below (Takilma & River Bridge) are summer and fall Rogue Valley staples. In the 9 years I've been boating on this stretch I have never seen it too low to boat. Both Dreamflows and Pat Welch post daily estimates online. The two estimates do vary a bit from each other but the difference is consistent so both work. I'd say below 800cfs the run is easier (solid class 3 boaters should be OK 800 on down) as Karma becomes less pushy and the two holes on the right mid way down disappear. The best way to scout Karma is to stop in the eddy on the right above the 3+/4- rapid leading into it. Eddy out right then climb the right wall and walk to the overlook about 150' downstream for the birds eye view. Even then you'll only see 2/3 of the rapid as the last 8' sloping ledge is out of sight as the river curves to the left. To spot this large eddy; it's on the right before the river will make a 60 degree turn to the left, narrowing down between large boulders with a horizon line just past the boulders. Trust me you'll know when you see it. As of 2011 it is now really easy to spot the eddy as a 1' to 2' diameter log now spans the river just below the eddy as you head into the drop above Karma. Don't count on this log being there next year though.
After Karma the river mellows out until Knob Falls, I go up and over (more work but faster) but most of my buddies opt for the seal launch below the falls. I would go up and over unless you're with somebody who knows where to get out above the falls. This run even though upstream is better at low flows than River Bridge as the channel is more narrow and the water deeper. Oregon Kayaking, Jefferson State Creeking and Dreamflows all have write-ups with pictures of this run
8 years ago
by Nick Sinderson
There is no gauge for this reach. The water level is good all year long.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Shuttle: Road Map To get to the take-out: Go north (on Oregon State Highway 62 East) past Prospect. At Highway 62 mile 51.3 turn left on USFS 68 toward Woodruff Bridge. Go 1.8 miles, cross the bridge and park.Scout: Cross Woodruff Bridge to river right. Turn right, and at MP2 (a hundred feet) turn right onto 6800-300. Bear left at the fork and then turn right onto 6800-304. Go to the end and check out the tube. This is also a fine camp spot. To get to the put-in: Go back to Highway 62. Turn left go three miles to the Natural Bridge Campground turn-off (Highway 62 mile 54.9). Turn left and follow the signs to the Viewpoint (0.7 mile from highway). Before you carry your boat down the asphalt 'trail' and over the foot bridge, walk all around and gawk at the natural bridge.
Knob Falls portage trail
View from footbridge at put-in
Snowy Put In at Gate
Woodruff Bridge Drop
Gorge below Knob Falls
The put in
Trailbridge at Natural Bridge
Gearing up, NF Rogue
Put in rapid NF Rogue
Put in Rapid NF Rogue
Put in Eddy on NF Rogue
Put In Rapid NF Rogue
Seal Launch, Natural Bridge Section NF Rogue River OR
NFRogue Road Map
Dead Man's Cave
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