Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lake Creek Slides

1 mi

Stream:   This is a unique run in Oregon's Coast Range, with fun slides in the beginning (unusual for Oregon) and some boulder gardens in the second half (typical of Oregon).  The run can start at Triangle Lake, but most people put in at a bridge shortly downstream 44.1617, -123.5707 where a foot gauge is located (7'-8' and sometimes 8.5' on this gauge is the normal range people run the creek at).

The slides section can be scouted from a nice walkway and mini-park at the end of the walkway. This scouting area is accessed by parking here 44.1594, -123.573.

The slides start out low angle, gradually tilting steeper as they approach the only vertical drop of the run (10-15').  The main line on this drop is down the center, what to do after landing is the biggest cause for pause.
 Photo: Lucas Rietmann

When there was still a log in the main line people used to put in on river right at the lip of this drop (missing out on the low angle slides upstream) for a fun hop, skip and splash.

Joe Kemper running the right side of the first drop, back when there was still a log in the main line.
(log gone as of 2016)
Photo: Lucas Rietmann

The runout here is odd, but people bounce their way through.  Alternately, boof into the eddy on the left to do a quick portage around the boulder pile.  Next is another fun ramp run on the left that ends in a short drop, with a nice eddy to regroup in just below on the left.  Good clean fun.

The trickiest slide is next.  Here a tough to scout (if flows are up) boulder garden pushes left at the lip of the slide which is not where you want to be.  Either make a quick portage of this lead in on the left or stay in control and drive back to the right through a couple small holes to run the final slide center or right and avoid a nasty log and root-wad on river left at the bottom.

It is possible to lap one or more of these slides, but generally it is not considered convenient enough to do a whole bunch of laps on all of them.  The easiest to lap is the middle slide if the water is lowish.

The pool below the final slide enters the boulder garden stretch, which is about half a mile long and blind parts should be scouted for wood but was portage free in 2016.

The boulder gardens are pretty steep and considered fun by most Willamette Valley boaters, but not by all.  The final drop in this section is the most unique and can provide exciting lines.

It's a short runout from here down to the take out bridge.

Flows:  The definitive gauge is the visual "Triangle Lake gauge" that exists on the put in bridge. The gist with some wiggle room is 7.0-7.5 is low but fun, 7.5-8.0 is medium, 8.0-8.5 is pushy.

- Over 8.5 is high but even at 10' it did not look un-runnable (most paddlers would not run it at that flow though).

- Minimum is users choice, people have been known to slide down a couple of the slides in the Summer.  Though most boaters, myself included, would consider flows under 7' too low and 6.5 an un-floatable flow.

To ballpark flows before heading out, use the Siuslaw Gauge near Mapleton.  Look for between 6' and 9' for class IV/V levels, though it goes much higher (looked doable for the elite at 18'). Keep in mind the Siuslaw gauge is far downstream on a much larger river, so is only reasonable for estimation purposes.

If you get there and it is too high for your taste, check out either the Play Run or Sweet Creek.

Access:  Find Triangle Lake on a map (West of Eugene).  The run begins immediately as the run exits the lake.  There is a gravel parking area near the Blachly Lane Picnic area (44.161891, -123.570914), and trail leading upstream to a convenient put in. The take out is at a bridge about 1 mile downstream and has limited parking (44.147849, -123.582892).  Refer to the following map.

Original write-up


We joined Nate Pfiefer and crew last weekend to check out the section of Lake Creek exiting Triangle Lake.  There have been many descents of this section, but up to this point no online documentation aside from a short video from Oregonkayaking. 

This section has got a lot of descents this year, and the general consensus is that it cleans up as the water starts to rise, but once the rocks are covered, it becomes hard class V in a hurry.  Emile ran it years ago in a playboat on several occasions at 10-12' and said it was good to go, but they did not run the boulder gardens below the slides.  There are rumors of it being run even higher.

Here is a video of Kory and I running it in 2015 at about 7.75' on the put in/Triangle Lake Gauge.                    0:00 - 1:30

Birthday Boating with Kory Kellum from PMacy on Vimeo.

This run is really not to be missed if you are a local, its short, but a total blast.  3 good slides and a half mile of 4/4+ boulder gardens.  The river carves through sandstone instead of the usual Oregon Basalt, providing unique rapids.


Noted on the trip:  Alsea Falls has a large log in it that is not leaving without some help.
UPDATE 2016:  The log is gone, but there is some wood in the runout.  Probably runnable.
UPDATE 2019:  There is a large pile of logs immediately below the falls, rendering it unrunnable.

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