When we showed up there were a couple local kids there on bikes who showed us a path to scout some of the "waterfalls" they knew about. They turned out to be a couple of three to four foot ledges, but they seemed interesting enough, so we put onto Canyon creek, which shortly confluenced with Milk creek. Right at the confluence was a fun class three drop consisting of a few bedrock ledge/slides. Below here was some class two and a log or two that were easily dodged. Soon, the bedrock reappeared on the side of the stream and we were scouting the biggest drop of the run the kids had referred to as the "Hult Road drop". It was straight forward anywhere you wanted to go off, but the left looked the most fun. Shane went first, and discovered it was pretty hard to get as far left as we wanted over the shallow bedrock since we had scouted on the right and we both ended up missing out on the boof.
There was also the option for a log grind in the middle I hoped to do on our second lap, but logistical issues had us heading home after one. Below here was a fun section of class 2-3 bedrock drops with one long low angle slide. Eventually this section tapered away into gravel bars with some wood. There was one log around a blind corner I was able to get over and Shane able to walk, but for the most part it was a clean creek-bed. It wasn't much further to our takeout at Dooghe Rd. It turned out to be a fun little adventure that I may come back to if I happen to be passing through and short on time though I would certainly not set aside an entire day for it.
It is conducive to a trip on your own since the shuttle is easy and the whitewater friendly. Flows for us were 1500 on the Molalla gauge, but 2000 would be a good thing to shoot for, and the run may actually be pretty enjoyable if flows were much over 3,000 cfs.
We took out where Dooghe road crosses Milk Creek, and put in where Hwy 211 crosses Canyon creek. My dad and his friend Rodd returned a year or two later and put in further up 211 a ways (near S Grays road) and took out lower. This added a couple more ledges up top and some class I-II down lower.
The run on Milk Creek
click to enlarge
Milk Creek and the Zigzag River from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.
The next day my dad and I ran the Zigzag River. People ask me what my favorite river is sometimes, and I usually just say "any river I haven't done yet". Though every time they ask, the Zigzag pops into my head for a moment. Its not a challenging run, in fact, none of the drops are even class four on their own. I just always seem to enjoy myself on this one though. The run is continuous, so your attention is required from beginning to take-out, yet it's easy enough that there is no concern and I often get into a meditative type state.
We call the rapid "26 moves" that starts just below the put in, and goes around a few corners before ending near Camp Creek. We call it this because there are about 26 small moves, and it is highway 26 that moves you to the put in and take out. We don't have any names for the rapids below, and I don't run it often enough anymore to have it memorized so mostly we just keep asking "is this the island with the wood?"
The rapids below the road 21 bridge are a half class harder than those above, and have some hydraulics in them. My dad and I had an enjoyable run, and were surprised when there were no mandatory wood portages! Not common for the Zigzag.