Canyon Creek is a rainy season classic for Portland area boaters. This photogenic run offers lots of clean, high quality ledges ranging in height from 5-20 feet. While this run provides plenty of entertainment for experts, at low flows the pool drop nature serves as a great training ground for aspiring creek boaters.

The run begins with a mile of class II-III warm up before bedrock appears and the river is funneled over a ledge usually run near the right wall. This marks the lead-in to the first significant rapid.

Mile 1.2: Swizzle Sticks (IV+) begins with a boof over a ledge hole before constricting through a bedrock slot. There is a strong eddy on the inside right of the turn and some boily water to contend with against the left wall. After the main drop the river continues through a short roller-coaster in a scenic mini-gorge.

Mile 1.4: A ledge followed by a sharp 90 degree turn to the left signals the entry to Terminator (IV+). This rapid is typically run all the way left by driving up on the pillow before turning right to T-up and boof the river-wide hole at the bottom.

Mile 1.8: A few more read and run rapids bring you to Prelude to Thrasher (IV), a broken ledge that forms a hole with an undercut in play on river left. Most boof the right edge.

An awesome boof off the right side at Prelude to Trasher.

An awesome boof off the right side at Prelude to Trasher.

Mile 1.85: Thrasher (IV+) is the next horizon line marked by a mid-stream rock splitting the flow or creating a tall pourover depending on the level. The typical line is boofing off the left shoulder of this rock to avoid the sticky hole at the bottom.

Running the pourover at Thrasher.

Running the pourover at Thrasher.

Mile 1.9: The Boulder Garden (IV) is the longest rapid on the run with a lengthy lead-in to a fun style flume drop that finishes in a sloping ledge hole. The hole at the bottom can catch some off-guard and is retentive. Left of center seems to be the weakness.

Mile 2.2: Kahuna (IV+) is the single tallest drop on Canyon Creek and plunges 20 feet into a large pool. There is a class III lead-in rapid but a eddy on the river right at the lip allows for a scout and offers a good spot to stage for the drop. There is an obvious ramp on the right side of the falls where a delayed boof will yield a clean line. Both of the walls flanking the drop are somewhat undercut. There is no simple portage option so those not running the falls will need to toss their boats and jump. After the pool, there are a pair of class III rapids that can be junky at low water before the next horizon line of note.

A clean line at Kahuna.

A clean line at Kahuna.

Mile 2.45: The Grand Finale of Canyon Creek is Champagne and Hammering Spot (IV+), a sequence of two nearly perfect riverwide ledges both dropping 8-10 feet. Champagne can be run in a number of places but most will opt for the huge boof flake center left. Hammering Spot is often run on the right over a smaller flake avoiding the most retentive part of the ledge on the left side.

Champagne and Hammering Spot make for picturesque drops.

Champagne and Hammering Spot make for picturesque drops.

Mile 2.5: Toby’s (IV+) is the final rapid of Canyon Creek. It has been the site of a fatal pin and avoiding the center of the ledge is the general rule. A grunge over a barely watered rock on river left or an airplane turn boof on the right are the prefered lines.

Shortly below Toby’s the river hits the reservoir. Once you reach a fork head west (left) and paddle the 1.8 miles of flatewater to the takeout.

Written by
Tim Kelley

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