San Juan, West Fork, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||200 fpm|
|Max Gradient||300 fpm|
This high-quality run is well worth the 3-mile hike; it deserves more attention.
Since the intrepid paddler is hiking the canyon rim, the run isn't really scoutable on the hike up. Expect a lot of boat-scouting and real scouting on your first run down.
The run consists of very continous rapids and boulder gardens with an occasional larger class V drop. Most of the run is boat scoutable read and run, but there are definitely some rapids you'll want to get out of your boat to scout and set safety. Most everything is portageable.
The putin is accessed by hiking the trail that follows the river on river right. The trail starts from the parking area near the takeout bridge and ends at the footbridge that crosses the river 3 miles upstream. The hike is about 3 miles in length total and follows a good trail that follows the rim of the canyon for much of the hike. Scouting from this high up is difficult, but at least you can catch a glimpse of the run from here.
(Note: it's not worth hiking above the footbridge; it's a portagefest of avalanche debris and wood.)
The takeout is the first bridge you come to that crosses the West Fork, on the road.
Before you go, make sure the gate on the "West Fork Rd," Forest Rd #648 at Forest Boundary, is open! Call 970-247-4874 or check http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/conditions/roads/pagosa.shtml.
Visual. If it looks bony at the takeout, that's a good level. If the takeout looks as though it's got enough water...be careful. It'll be meaty upstream, and expert boaters have had disasters at those levels.
Evan Stafford and Kyle McCutchen, Whitewater of the Southern Rockies
Info supplied by Bryan Houle. Thanks!
FIRST DESCENT BY:
Jarrod Johnson and ?