For a first time trip 1,000-2,000 cfs is probably the range most people are going to want to shoot for on the Steamboat gauge. It has been scraped down as low as 200 cfs, and the last part next to the hatchery has been run pretty high (@ 3,000 rising to 5,000 cfs). Per usual, recommended flows will provide the best boating opportunity.
This is a convenient section of class IV-V bouldery whitewater only 30 minutes off I-5 near Glide. After a short warm up, there is about 1 mile of challenging boulder gardens, then an easier but still splashy 1/4 mile as it passes the fish hatchery and enters the North Umpqua. Many boaters choose to continue through the Narrows on the North Umpqua for two more notable rapids on a larger river.
Below is an outdated, humorous description from some boaters who put in at the wrong spot, and perhaps were in over their heads. Scroll past for a more accurate portrayal:
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.
While the above description is humorous, it paints Rock Creek in a negative light. We found the run to be worth doing even below recommended flows (we somehow made it down with just over 200 on the Steamboat gauge) and everything was paddle-able, but a lot more water is needed to bring out quality in the run. 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.
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, where there is a good parking area. Most paddlers who enjoyed Rock Creek will appreciate the opportunity to continue down to the Narrows Wayside for two extra rapids. If you choose to do that, scope your take out from the wayside beforehand.
Getting there: Take I5 to Roseburg exit 124 and follow the signs to state highway 138
east. Continue east 5-6 miles past Glide to the bridge over Rock Creek for a visual flow check.
Take-out: There is a parking area at the confluence of Rock Creek and the North Umpqua that is a nice take out. If you are continuing through the Narrows, there is parking at the Narrows Wayside 1 mile downstream of the Rock Creek/N. Umpqua confluence. Or, there are other pull outs even further downstream if you prefer.
To get to the put-in: Rock Creek road heads upstream 1/4 West of the Hwy 138 bridge over Rock Creek. Take Rock Creek Rd 1.5 miles and turn right on Anabel Rd. Look for a place to park and walk to the river.
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on Rock Creek (Umpqua) @Above Rock Creek Fish Hatchery
I Survived Upper Rock Creek
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