This run can be done as a day trip by locals or an extension of the classic overnight wilderness run on the Illinois. Note that although this is a good option for kayakers, the portage at Illinois River Falls and the river-level foot bridge are problematic for rafts. Rafts should put-in at the McCaleb Bridge and take in just the lower portion of this run (see map) or just skip this section and put-in at Miami Bar.
When flows are up a bit you can float on Deer Creek (4.4 miles) to the confluence with the Illinois (class 2-3). Deer Creek is under the bridge a 1/2 mile or so south of the store in Selma.
An alternate access for a short run is at the Snailback Trailhead. This is a posted river access point a mile or two downstream from Selma. A pretty, I/2 mile downhill walk gets you to the river and it's about 3 miles to a take-out below Lower Six Mile. There are only 4 stand-out class 3 to 3+ rapids (Ranch Rock, Crankshaft, Upper and Lower Six Mile) in that distance but the deep canyon is beautiful and wildlife plentiful. The rapids can pack a punch when flows at the Kirby Gauge read over 1,500 cfs.
Below lower Six Mile Rapid is a mile or two of class 2, Then a fun 3+ rapid that signals lower Illinois falls (5+) is around the corner. Eddy out and portage right when a block of concrete appears in the middle of the river (fish ladder). After a couple of imaginary runs down the falls, It's class 2 to the floating bridge at McCaleb Ranch where you can expect to portage. This foot bridge and the road bridge at this point also serve as an alternate access point. It is a take-out (11.6 miles from listed put-in) or alternatively a put-in for a quick run (4.8 miles) down to Miami Bar or a longer journey that continues through the wilderness section of the Illionois.
From the bridges down to Miami Bar there are a number of fun class 3 rapids with a harder one at a recent land slide on river left. A moving pool leads into a landslide boulder dam 5-8' high depending on flow with a cheat line on the right, starting a 100 yards upstream of the main drop. The rocks in the main drop haven't yet been softened up by the river and are ragged and sharp--no place to be upside down.
Walk in at the Snailback Trail Head, a posted river access point a mile or two from Selma. A pretty, 1/2 mile downhill walk gets to the river.
Eddy out and portage right when a block of concrete appears in the middle of the river (fish ladder). After a couple of imaginary runs down the falls, it's class 2 to the floating bridge at McCaleb.
The Rancheria Bridge (Forest Road 4103-087), a low water bridge at McCaleb Ranch typically requires a portage. This is also an alternate access point for those who want to paddle this reach but don't want to deal with a portage at Illinois River Falls or the bridge. There is also a trail bridge just upstream of the road bridge.
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I think that the bridge to McCaleb has been fixed...
10 years ago
by Thomas O'Keefe
AW letter to BLM in support of extending existing mineral withdrawal by 20 years on Wild and Scenic Illinois River in Oregon.
River management plan for the Wild and Scenic Illinois River
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Rancharia Bridge (Forest Road 4103-087) at McCaleb Ranch
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On January 12, 2017, the BLM and Forest Service announced a 20-year halt to new mining activities in the watersheds of the North Fork Smith, Illinois, Pistol River and Hunter Creek in Oregon. American Whitewater celebrates this important milestone with the conservation and recreation partners that we've worked with, and thanks Representatives DeFazio and Huffman and Senators Wyden and Merkley for their dedication to protecting this place. And we thank YOU too for standing up for these wild rivers!
The Interior Department has just approved a 20-year extension for a mineral withdrawal along 14 miles of Oregon’s National Wild and Scenic Illinois River. The measure will protect one of the most spectacular stretches of river in the state from mining.
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