More info at Virtual Soggy Sneakers. (See below to buy the book.)
Flows: The Sandy @ Marmot gauge is a loose correlation (and varies by season a bit), but can give you a ballpark idea. 1,500-2,500 cfs and dropping is medium.
Check the photos tab for the visual gauge on the creek, it is not advisable to run the creek at high water unless you know the run, and the current wood situation well.
Stream: A unique run flowing off of Mt. Hood that is consistently runnable fall through snowmelt. In 2010 the run lacked any mandatory wood portages, in 2017 there was a fair bit of wood in the upper reaches. Expect the situation to change year to year and even month to month sometimes.
The run is fast with few eddies and will test a paddlers coping skills, as stopping is often not achieved simply through eddy catching. Running up onto shallow sections or grabbing branches is a common strategy. The run is fast and keeps your brain engaged. While no individual rapid is very hard (mostly III+), stacked together it is enjoyable for class IV boaters. There is one moving pool at the Still Creek confluence, the rest of the run is relentless. Best on a warm day with some snowmelt.
Access: The best run starts on HWY 26 and ends on HWY 26. If you are driving Eastbound the first time you cross the creek is the takeout, the second time is the put-in.
If the wood situation is a bummer in the upper part of the run, people will put in at Tollgate Campground instead.
When the wood situation allows, some boaters like to continue down to the bridge near the Sandy or even further. In 2017 there was a big log jam between the Still Creek confluence and the Sandy confluence.
2/1/2020 Log-jam at lower end of Tollgate CG is now a single, 8" diameter tree across entire creek. It might be possible to boof over it on river left which will then feed you directly into a tight 3+ (4 at this flow) drop. Lower water and it becomes a trap around a blind corner after 100 yards of eddy-free boating. Wood situation is slightly improved through the CG, the rapid shortly below the upper put-in known as "26 Moves" still has wood and no great stopping or portage options. For a number of years, we have been putting in just below this drop. "26 Moves" is the steepest, most continuous piece on the river and becomes more user-friendly below it.
5/24/2017 Ran from the upper end of Tollgate CG to the Sandy River confluence at Lolo Pass Road. Sandy at Marmot was 2200, Sandy below Bull Run 10.5/3200. This flow is probably at the high end of prudent. Eddies are pretty scarce at this level and they disappear entirely with much more water. HIGHLY recommend putting in below the logjam at the lower end of Tollgate CG as there are portages at upper, middle and downstream ends of the CG as well as a blind left that is spooky but runnable (wood on right bank where the only micro-eddy is for stopping/scouting). The only way to stop before the logjam is a tiny, one-boat eddy on the left that you have to know about in advance after a long-stretch of eddy-free water. It is very hairy trying to manage multiple boats approaching this hazard. On a straightaway after a right-bend below the logjam is an easy log-hop on the left which can be scouted from the left bank at the corner. From here to the giant logjam-complex about a mile below the Highway 26/Still Creek confluence the river is completely clean and great fun with the rapid below the Road 20 bridge being the standout. Portaging the big jam is an ordeal (on the right through the woods). Starting the portage 50 yards upstream is better as it becomes more difficult to enter the woods the closer you get to the jam. This is a great flow if you're cautious, scout blind corners and always have your next eddy figured out in advance.
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Gauge Rock - Medium
ZigZag Gauge - med/low
Typical Zigzag River
Zigzag/Still Creek confluence
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