This special Class IV+ section of whitewater is referred to as Opal Creek by kayakers but it is technically the Little North Santiam River. The Little North Santiam begins at the confluence of Battle Axe Creek and Opal Creek about a mile above the put-in. It flows through the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area and is just south of the Opal Creek Wilderness.

To paddle this section you must do a short 0.9 mile hike from a locked gate up to Old Mine. Please be respectful of other trail users while hiking to the put-in. This is a popular destination in Oregon that is loved and visited by many others.

This area was permanently protected in 1996 after the Forest Service planned to log its old growth forests. Friends of Opal Creek (now Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center) and other groups fought for a decade to protect its old growth forest from logging.

Trip Highlights

Mile -0.9: Begin your hike to Old Mine at the Opal Creek Trailhead.

Mile -0.3: Cross over Gold Creek. About 0.2 miles past Gold Creek look for a trail down the put-in at Old Mine.

Mile 0: Put-in at Old Mine. There some interesting mining relics to check out.

The put-in at Old Mine

The put-in at Old Mine

Mile 1.7: Big Ugly (IV+) is about 50 yards downstream of a sharp right hand turn. There is a small eddy above it on the right that can be used to scout or portage.

Mile 1.95: Big Fluffy (V) can be scouted and portaged on the right. The rapid has a tricky entrance followed by a 15 foot waterfall. A hole at the bottom of Big Fluffy can be problem, especially at flows above 1000 cfs. If you portage on the right but you'll need to do a 15 foot seal launch.

Big Fluffy Rapid on Opal Creek

Big Fluffy Rapid on Opal Creek

Mile 3.85: Thor's Playroom (IV) is a series of three drops just above take-out. It can be scouted when you leave your vehicle at take-out.

Thor's Playroom is also known as Three Pools

Thor's Playroom is also known as Three Pools

Mile 4: Take out at Three Pools. Please note that alcohol is prohibited at Three Pools.

Author: Zach Collier

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