Oregon Hole Gorge (Also referred to as the Middle Fork Gorge) is a classic run on the Smith River. It involves four distinct rapids which change drastically with varying water levels. Most of the rapids in this rocky gorge can be scouted from paved turnouts along Highway 199. The last rapid, Oregon Hole, is difficult to scout from the road by can be scouted from river level.

Raft in Oregon Hole Gorge at Low Water

Raft in Oregon Hole Gorge at Low Water

There are four distinct rapids in the gorge with adequate recovery pools at moderate flows (about 1000 cfs). At higher flows the first three rapids merge together and the fourth, Oregon Hole, becomes fierce. The difficulty of the rapids vary quite a bit with flow. Some get easier at higher water and others harder.

The run can be done on its own as a quick dose of adrenalin or it can be done as a continuation of the Mary Adams Run. If you like logistics and driving around with rafts (or kayaks) on top of your car it is also fun to combine this run with a float down the South Fork Gorge for a fun filled day.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in at Middle Fork Gorge River Access.

Mile 0.55: Entrance (IV+) marks the entrance of the Gorge.

Mile 0.65: Nozzle (IV+) comes up soon after Entrance and can be scouted from a small beach on the left.

Heading into Nozzle at low water

Heading into Nozzle at low water

Mile 0.8: Hole in the Wall (IV+) is generally the most difficult rapid at most flows. There is an undercut wall on the left that is intimidating and a sieves on the right that are visible at low water. At most flows you can catch an eddy on the right side above it to carefully scout and set safety.

Heading into Hole in the Wall at a health flow

Heading into Hole in the Wall at a health flow

Mile 1: Oregon Hole (IV+) comes after a short pool. The difficulty of this rapid varies quite a bit with river flows so it should be scouted each time. There are some rocks on the left you can climb on to scout.

Headed into Oregon Hole in a Creature Craft at super high water

Headed into Oregon Hole in a Creature Craft at super high water

Mile 2.1: Float under the South Fork Road Bridge.

Mile 2.27: Take out at the Forks River Access and Boat Ramp on river left just before the confluence with the South Fork of the Smith.

Written by
Zach Collier

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