Collawash - 1. Big Dog

Collawash, Oregon, US


1. Big Dog

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 5 Miles

The Churn

The Churn
Photo by Priscilla Macy taken 05/16/18

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-14209500 2000 - 4000 cfs IV-V 00h19m 661 cfs (too low)

River Description


2000-3000 cfs is a good first time range to shoot for.  While the run always requires class V competence, as flows get near 3,000 cfs and up the rapids are more on the class V side of things, with Big Dog always being class V.  Because the gauge is far downstream, you may be able to get down the run with less than 2,000 cfs under some conditions, and should be aware that 2500 might be runnable-low one day and medium-high another.  The upper limit is unknown, 4,000 cfs is a guess, it is possible it could be done higher.


This run begins with four miles of class II warmup (with one exception), followed by 2+ miles of quality class IV-V boating.  The class II is seperated from the harder stuff by one of Oregon's largest logjams, fortunately it's so old and stable that walking across it is easier than it initial appears it would be when you first float up to it.  If you recognize it early, portaging over the left side is easier than floating all the way to it and portaging over the top on the right.


The second rapid below the logjam is called Big Dog, and is a step above the rest of the rapids.  It is one of the best class V rapids Oregon has to offer.  Good rapids continue below here and have clean lines with a serious feel.  At low flows the run is mostly IV-IV+ in a class V environment, as flows increase the rapids match the environment.  Most everything is portageable, but not always easily.

You can read a description on Jason Rackley's Oregon Kayaking site. Due to the unstable geology of the area, some of the rapids have changed for better or worse since that description.  After the initial set of challenging rapids, the run eases half a class before eventually settling to moderate IV just above the take out. Rackley also suggests that one might want to tack two miles of the Lower Collowash onto this run for added amusement.

 In 2014 (at about 2100 cfs at Three Lynx) all the rapids were run and deemed clean/enjoyable.  This was an excellent first time flow. The only log portage was the large log jam above the steep section.  Scouting/portaging was easily done throughout the duration of the run.

Trip report at Into The Outside.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-16 22:59:39

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

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Associated Projects

  • Mt. Hood Wilderness (OR)
    In 2009 new Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers were established for the forests of Mt. Hood.