Friday, February 27, 2009

Butte Creek: Guidebook section (Salem)


Stream:  Butte Creek is a nice intermediate run near Salem with hassle free logistics not far from Highway 213 between Molalla and Silverton.  It is rain dependent, but does hold onto water for a few days after a rain and can be enjoyed at a wide range of flows without changing much in difficulty.  Aside from the put in and take out rapid (both can be skipped) the run consists of a few stand out class III-IV rapids and loads of busy class II-III with small surf waves and jib rocks scattered throughout.

               At the put in is The Butte Crack, a narrow ramp that is nothing like the rest of the run.

If you are not interested in starting the day with a class V, put in below via a number of fun seal launch options.   The first set of ledges is not far below the put in, they are easy but be sure not to get pulled into the narrow cracks that steal the flow at low water.  Being right is usually the safest bet.

Seal launching in at the put in.

After more floating and just above a bridge is Splittin' Hairs, a ledge with two channels.  The right side can usually be run down the center of the channel, keep that nose up!  The left can be run at medium flows, but gets pinny at low flows.

Cruisey water is later broken up by Knuckle Buster, the most notable of the class IV's.  This is a two part rapid that is worth a scout your first time down.  The first part ends in a small hole that is backed up on the right side, run the left side of the final ledge in this tier.

Priscilla carving into a neat pocket-eddy at the bottom tier in the first part of Knuckle Buster.  550 cfs

A small ledge hole separates the two parts of Knuckle Buster.  Below this hole eddy out right to scout the second part of Knuckle Buster, which sometimes collects wood at the bottom.  There are many lines through this part of the rapid, but all of them are a bit odd at low flows.  Take a look, pick your route.

More easy floating below, with a few more enjoyable rapids and a ledge that can sneak up on paddlers best run just to the right of a mid-stream bush.  A nice, but short section of bedrock rapids along a basalt wall on the the right are a prelude to Scotts Mills Falls.  The creek pools up here above an obvious horizon line.  At low flows scout the rapid left or right, as flows increase it becomes more and more necessary to scout left.

 Scotts Mills Falls.
Brandon Bloomquist: 260 cfs

Just below Scotts Mills Falls is a series of ledges, at most flows the center of the ledges is best avoided.  Eddy out after the last one on the left and walk a short trail back up to the road.  The closer you get to the bridge in town, the harder it is to get out of the creek.

It is possible to continue past Scotts Mills down to Cascade Hwy, where there are numerous surf waves at high flows (1500+) and rocky class II at regular flows.
Flows:  200-1200 cfs for a class III-IV trip.  300-1,000 is most common.  Use the Butte Creek @ Monitor gauge.

It's still runnable at 2,000 cfs but is more consistantly class IV, and Scotts Mills is getting on towards class V.  There are also some sticky holes to avoid at that flow, but mostly just a bunch of fun waves to surf and boily hydraulics.  The lines are in the same locations as at regular flows for the most part.

                                                               Luke Spencer:  Scotts Mills @1800 cfs

Access:  The take out is in the town of Scotts Mills, about 20 minutes East of I-5.  From either Silverton or Oregon City, take Hwy 211 (Cascade Hwy) to Scotts Mills Rd.  Take Scotts Mills road to Scotts Mills.  There is a bridge in town over Butte Creek, 100 yards upstream on river left is a city park where you park vehicles.  

To get to the put in, return to the bridge in town and cross over to river-right.  Take the next right onto Maple Grove, then turn right again immediately onto S Butte Creek Rd. Follow S Butte Creek Rd 4.6 miles to a right turn onto a private road owned by a Boy Scout/Horse Camp.  Immediately you cross over Coal Creek, which has been used as a put in before.  There is one slide here that can be run far right, the middle lands in bushes.  To get to the normal put in continue down the private road to a grassy area where the camp allows kayakers to park and use as a put in.  Do not park along the private roadway.

                                                               Click on map to enlarge

Original Write-up

Jeff Hartley and I ran Butte Creek today.  The run was pretty uneventful but still a good time.  We had enough water that we kept moving along and there were enough rapids to keep us entertained.  Did not run the put-in drop but I plan on doing so next time.

Next time.
The Butte Crack