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: Cross the foot bridge at Natural Bridge Viewpoint, hop the stone wall, hump through the woods and scramble down to put in downstream river right. The class V rapid above has been run but beware of the cave on river left. Boating is not encouraged here so be quick and discrete at the put-in especially if you run the drop above the bridge. Stop and try to surf the little wave, then shoot the first IV- drop. For the next mile or so the rocks are small and your concentration will be on your bow with plenty of fun whitewater. Stop often and look up at the rock formations and colors. When you come to a pool at the top of a IV- drop with a couple of moderate-size boulders it is time to wake up. Go ahead and run this drop. The next rapid, Karma, is the crux rapid. Karma is a long, nearly blind double drop that continues around a blind left turn and should be scouted for logs. Once you get started you can't be guaranteed a chance to stop until you come out the bottom. Soon after Karma you come to a horseshoe bend that starts with the river taking a hard bend to the right. Knob Falls or Therapy Falls, at the apex of the horseshoe bend back to the left, is typically portaged. The portage route up over the small hill is visible on river left. The falls has been run but there have also been some close calls here. In the runout below the gorge there are a couple fun rapids finishing off with a hole in a narrow chute that needs to be punched. At this point the pace slows down considerably. After a mile or so of flat water you come two collapsed lava tubes. The second should be scouted for logs from the take-out before starting or it can be portaged/run on the left. The narrow slot on the right is more fun though, so scout. Finally, run the last waterfall on the right side of the island. It is too easy. The left is death in full view of all the fishermen. Do not drift downstream of the picnic area thinking it will be as easy as it looks. The next reach contains class V Takelma gorge.
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.
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
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.
7 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.
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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