The Chetco River begins in the heart remote Kalmiopsis Wilderness and flows West to the Pacific Ocean. It is a remarkably clear stream well known for Salmon and Steelhead fishing.

The Chetco River from Carter Creek to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary is among the most amazing wilderness river trips in the world. Very few people do it since it's a 10 mile hike down to the put-in at Carter Creek. Those who are willing to hike their equipment in are treated to a trip well worth the lower body work out.

The rapids are mostly tricky Class III and IV. There are a few dangerous rapids with sieves and undercut rocks, so it's important to pay close attention all the way down. Hardshell kayaks will have fun at flows above 1,000 cfs. This is also a great trip for inflatable kayaks which can float down as low as 300 cfs.

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Trip Highlights

Mile -10: Begin your trip at the Babyfoot Lake Trailhead. Getting to the put-in requires a 10 mile hike from Babyfoot Lake to Carter Creek via Bailey Mountain. This trail is open thanks to the hard work of the Siskiyou Mountain Club. If you use it, consider donating to their fine organization.

Hiking into the Chetco River

Hiking into the Chetco River

Mile 0: Put-in at Carter Creek. The three miles downstream are known as the Magic Canyon because of it's deep pools tucked in a narrow canyon.

Kayakng in the Chetco River's Magic Canyon

Kayakng in the Chetco River's Magic Canyon

Mile 3: Slide Creek enters on the right and Slide Creek Rapid (III+) is a long technical rapid just down stream. Below here is a long pool and then Class IV and IV+ rapids come in quick succession. The next few miles are steepest section of the river (85 fpm) commonly known as the Upper Chetco River Gorge.

Mile 4: The Portage Rapid (V) is often portaged due to dangerous rocks and a fairly easy portage on the right.

The Portage Rapid on the Chetco River

The Portage Rapid on the Chetco River

Mile 5.8: Granite Creek enters on the right signaling the end of the steepest section of the Chetco River.

Mile 6.7: Taggart's Bar has beautiful flat pools and a rocky shelf on the right side.

Taggarts Bar

Taggarts Bar

Mile 8.3: Box Canyon Creek enters on the left side and is a great place to hike/swim your way up the creek.

Mile 10: Chetco Bar

Mile 14.6: Tin Cup Rapids (IV+) are a series of rapids followed by Tin Cup Creek entering on the right side.

Tin Cup Rapids on the Chetco River

Tin Cup Rapids on the Chetco River

Mile 16.6: White Rocks Rapid (III) is a particularly beautiful rapid surrounded by beautiful White Rocks.

Mile 17.7: Boulder Creek comes in on the left side and there is a great camp site just downstream on the left. This is where the Chetco River leaves the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Mile 20.5: Tollman Ranch is on the right bank and there is a possible take-out on the left side just downstream.

Mile 23.7: SB 1 (IV+) is a long, complicated rapid.

SB 1 Rapid on the Chetco River

SB 1 Rapid on the Chetco River

Mile 23.9: SB 2 (IV) is another long rapid just downstream with a tricky drop at the bottom.

Mile 26.1: Take-out at the Iron Bridge.

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