Katie Petrick: The Campbell Falls to Three C Rock section of the S. Umpqua is a class III run at most water levels with a short, easily portaged class III+/IV drop and an optional waterfall at the put-in. After a short walk down from the road, a boater can climb across the small, river-right braid onto a lava rock formation to scout the falls at most water levels. The most obvious line will be an obvious boof sending 10-12 feet down into a walled chute accented with bright green moss. Logs high above water level extend across the chute from their flood-placed resting spots on the lava rock. Seal-launching and putting in downstream are also easy enough options for those wishing to forgo the landing.
Like much of the rest of the S. Umpqua, this section passes through coniferous forest. As always, maintain a constant vigilance for wood – log jams and strainers caused by seasonal flooding, fires, and wind storms are not un-common. The banks and rocks of the beautiful, blue-green S. Umpqua are covered in several types of mosses and lichens. During spring and early summer there are dozens of species of wild flowers. Winter bald eagle sightings on this stretch are very common, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself running rapids with the ducks. There are also a few places where the river has carved, and in one spot, actually undercut a cliff-peninsula out of the slope forming the let bank. Try to recognize the one that looks like a gigantic fist. Most rapids of significance on this stretch involve the river funneling into a little chute or small drop between rock ledges cropped out from the riverbanks. Several of these features will have horizon lines from upstream. Be aware that higher water (approaching 2k) will turn some of these drops into river-wide ledge holes. Probe or scout if you are unsure.
The most significant of the drops occurs about 3 miles after the put-in. The river widens and becomes shallow and then funnels powerfully and turns to the right to create a channel-wide drop into a class III-IV lava rock chute. This drop can easily be portaged or scouted from river-right. The drop is most shallow to the left, but be aware of the potential to get squirreled into an eddy directly feeding into the hole. At low water, this is simply a fun, splashy drop over a hydraulic.
Once you start to paddle past backyards and vacation homes, you know you are entering the second half of the run. There are a few short, but scenic flat stretches here. You will do a bit of paddling. Take in the smells of the forest and check out the flora and fauna. A half mile before the takeout, Jackson Creek enters from river left. Take out on river right in a large pool before another drop in the river. Above 4k the run starts to become more on the class IV side of things.
Take Out: Three C Rock, 5.4 miles upstream from Tiller, OR
Put In: Find the trailhead to Campbell Falls (named for a WWII Pilot who wakilled in action) just upriver from Boulder Creek and Boulder Creek Campground on Country Road 46, approx. 16.8 miles upstream from Tiller. The sign is a bit small, so keep those eyes peeled. Be aware of the snow level during winter months, as the road near the put-in might have some accumulation. From the trailhead, hike the 150 yards or so down two minor switchbacks to the river.
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Campbell Falls - Right Side
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