This run on Little Elk is not as interesting as the upper section, but is worth it. It is even more scenic with towering cliff faces and dense hemlock forests. There is a nice 3 foot drop just down from the put in. The gradient is pretty evenly distributed, so there aren't really that many big rapids. It is mostly easy, but continuous Class II paddling. The noted gradient is only for Little Elk down to the mouth. Big Elk is roughly 12 ft/mile on this section, but very swift when Little Elk is high enough.
Put in on the left bank of Little Elk. You may want to put your flashers on and drop your boat(s) on the other side of the gaurd rail then park your car on State Road. (See above section for details.)
I know there are were always fishermen parked on the other side of Elk just off Beckman Rd during steelhead season, yet the parking area is posted with "No Trespassing" signs. This happens to be right by the mouth of Little Elk. The fishermen must use some kind of trail going down to Elk Creek. It can't be too bad because most of them don't seem to like walking very far. Half of the .6 mile walk is over a huge, flat farm field that you can see when you are driving on Beckman Rd right by I-90. If you have a 4x4, you might be able to drive to the other side of the field.
As far as I know, you have to paddle 4 miles of fast moving water from the mouth to Girard on the less interesting part of Lower Elk but in very high water. Once you join Elk, it is calm but fast until you get past I-90. After passing under the it, open rapids with huge wave trains form. If it's really running, there can be standing waves over 6 feet tall on Elk itself and massive holes!
The shuttle down to the abandoned bridge is only 4 miles by road to the abandoned bridge. To get to the take out go north on State Road about 200 yards and turn right on South Creek Road. Take South Creek for 3.25 miles until you reach the intersection with Route 20. Turn right on Route 20 and go over the bridge across Big Elk and make the first right after the bridge. This is Old Ridge Road and follow that down to the dead end (the bridge is closed.) Park at the dead end. There is a short trail here that leads down to Elk.
There is not enough information to report runnable levels with certainty. All the times this section has been run, the level was 2.2 ft or more and there was plenty of water. A level of 1.85 ft should be near the minimum level and 2.90 ft should be near the max.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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