Rock Creek (Umpqua), Oregon, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||40 fpm|
|Max Gradient||200 fpm|
Put in under the bridge on river left. If the day is cloudy or foggy, bring a compass. The gradient on the first four miles is 10 ft/mi. Downstream is 200 degrees magnetic. After four miles of slack water and logs, you come to the first drop.
DO NOT run this drop; It will funnel you into a series of class V drops with multiple routes some of which have man size rock sieves.
Instead, get out on river right and start portaging over volksvagen size boulders. After a mile of this the river eases and you can get back into your boat. Don't bother to fasten your spray skirt.
Almost immediately you will see the diversion dam that feeds the fish hatchery. Do not run the dam; This is dangerous.
Instead, paddle to river right and, in the very maw of the covered sluice that feeds the fish, throw your paddle into the berry bushes, grab a handful of salal, kick your boat, and wiggle like a lizard up the bank.
Downstream of the fish hatchery is a short run to the North Umpqua. You can find a highwater account of this run on Oregon Kayaking.
While the above description is humorous, it paints Rock Creek in a negative light. We found the run to be worth doing and a couple of us did the run without any portages.
We found access to the stream off of Anabel rd via a short walk through the wooded area. The stream is visible (barely) from Anabel road. This puts paddlers in below the 4 miles of flatwater, but allows for a short warm up before the whitewater section. The rapids last for about a mile and are all steep boulder rapids. Some of them were boat scoutable, some were not. Near the end of the run a diversion dam is reached, this can be portaged easily on the right if you like. Downstream is a quarter mile of easier, but still enjoyable rapids before the confluence with the North Umpqua.
This is a good run to do on the way to the upper runs on the North Umpqua when time is short. It can be combined with the Deadline Falls/Narrows section of the North Umpqua for a good half day of boating, half hour off of I5.
We had 1300 cfs on the North Umpqua @ Copeland gauge. This was a class IV(+) flow and was on the manky side of things. We had some people who had run class V before portage a couple of the rapids, but also someone in a playboat run all of the rapids. I think 2000 cfs on the North Umpqua @ Copeland gauge would be the friendliest flow, but no promises. With healthy flows, this would be a class V run.
To get to the put-in: Take I5 to Roseburg exit 124 and follow the signs to state highway 138 east. Go east past Idlwyld and follow the signs to Rock Creek Fish Hatchery. Do not go into the hatchery. Instead, continue about 5 miles to the first side bridge over Rock Creek. Turn right and cross the bridge and park. Alternately, walk in off of Anabel road to avoid the 4 miles of flat water.
To get to the take-out: There is a parking area at the confluence of Rock Creek and the North Umpqua that is a nice take out.