Santiam, Little North (Opal Gorge), Oregon, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|LITTLE NORTH SANTIAM RIVER NEAR MEHAMA, OR|
|usgs-14182500||400 - 2000 cfs||IV-V||00h44m||3160 cfs (too high)|
This stretch has been run down to 200 cfs and up to 5,000 cfs by locals. Neither extreme is recommended. The Undertaker has been run at least once around 5,000 cfs. As flows surpass 1500 cfs, it becomes more and more important to portage the Undertaker on the right, as the left side eddy turns into a channel that feeds back into the rapid.
The cfs gauge is far downstream so while 500 cfs might be a decent flow from snowmelt, it is sometimes a boat-abusing level in the winter. There is a stick gauge at the Elkhorn bridge. 5' is the minimum enjoyable level by most accounts.
Logistics: From Highway 22 mile 23.2 turn onto Little North Santiam Road (this turn is at a flashing light on the west side of the Highway 22 bridge across the North Santiam). Head up this road paralleling the river and at mile 12.7 turn into Salmon Falls recreation area. This is one potential take-out (above the falls). Alternatively you can find a spot upstream although riverside access is posted as private property. To reach the put-in continue up the road to mile 16.9 where you come to Y. Turn right onto Forest Road 2207. Follow this road down 0.7 mile to Three Pools which is the put-in. Alternatively continue on up FR 2207 a short way to the bridge across the river.