Monday, July 15, 2019

Marion Creek


Stream: A short section of bedrock not far off Hwy 22 that flows into the North Santiam near the town of Marion Forks.

It's a novelty run at best, but was worth doing for us under the right occasion.  We thought if we were driving from Salem to Bend at the right time of year it could be a nice way to break up the drive.  Or if someone was looking for a class IV- version of Sweet Creek.

There is a short walk in through the woods, and everything can be scouted either by the standard method of catching eddies and walking down the bank, or before putting on by walking down a rudimentary use trail that parallels the creek on river right.

There was one log that was in the way when we did the run in 2019 that required us to bang down a shallow channel on the left.  The rest of the run was clean.

The last horizon is the tallest, and is run down the middle.  Below this ledge/ramp the creek returns to boulders and the take out is on the right just below the island in the following photo.

Flows:  We were checking this creek out on July 5, 2019.  It had some water left due to snow-melt, but it wasn't really "in".  Enough for a fun adventure for us, not enough to recommend to others.

These photos were taken from the bridge just downstream of the take out.

The rock circled in the photo was wet, with water washing over it.  If it was covered, I think that would be a runnable flow.

 July 5, 2019

Access:  No need for a shuttle vehicle.  Drive to the town of Marion Forks, about 16 miles SE on Hwy 22 from Detroit (between Salem and Bend).   Head up Marion Creek Rd 3 miles, there will be a bridge off to the right.  100 feet past this an easy-to-miss road goes to the right into a campground, which is the take out.  Scope out/mark the exit from the creek at this point.

To get to the put in drive upstream 1/4 mile, on a short straight away after a right turn and before a left turn park in a tiny pull out to the left.  Walk up the road another 100 feet and enter the woods and b-line for the creek.  

The walking is easy, there is a final bench to drop down to the creek.  If you are in the right spot there will be a log jam above and the first horizon below.

If you want, you can set the boats down before the bench and walk upstream a short distance to take in Gooch Falls.  It's not runnable, but is pretty.  There is a rudimentary trail that goes down to the campsight from Gooch Falls along the creek, so you can scout everything before putting on if you like.

Trip Report

It was the first weekend in July and we had done two week long trips to California in June.  I didn't really want to spend much time in a car this weekend, but still wanted to see something new.   It had been a good snow year so I thought there might be some water flowing off the Cascades still, so I set about finding a creek that would be capturing that snow melt I had not paddled yet.

I had seen plenty of photos of Marion Creek in the summer-time and it seemed like it held it's water better than rain fed stream of similar size.  I had read the Oregonkayaking trip report and while I didn't want to repeat that experience Jason had mentioned in there a section of ledges and slides below Gooch Falls.  The maps did show some waterfalls, and there was a bridge downstream that would make for a take out to a half mile section.

Priscilla and I headed up on a Friday with our rock boats, and found the logistics pretty straight forward.  We hiked in to Gooch Falls via a short bushwhack.  Gouch Falls was worth staring at for a bit before we headed downstream.  50 yards of boulders led to a log jam portage, and just downstream was a horizon line.  I recognized this first drop from the OK trip report.  We ended up taking a center line instead of the left line.

We found the section below to be just as advertised, 1/4 mile of small ledges and slides.  We scouted a number of them, one had a log in the main line that we skirted to the left of.  Other than that it was a clean creek bed.

Just below the largest ramp/ledge the creek returned to boulders and I saw a log jam downstream of the next island.  I headed over to the right bank to portage and noticed it was at a campsite.  I set my boat down and looked around the corner to see the take out bridge, so instead of portaging just left the boats at the campsite and I jogged back up to the car while Priscilla explored a trail heading  upstream from the campground.

We decided that we should do another lap, so drove up to a point Priscilla had determined from her trip up the trail from the campsite would drop us in just below the log jam we had portaged at the top on our first lap.  This time we didn't have to get out of our boats and were smiling as we hopped out again at the take out.

We both thought we might be back some day to break up a drive between Bend and Salem, feeling it was like a tamer Sweet Creek experience.  With more water, maybe we would even leave the rock boats at home.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Calapooia River: Headwaters

The Calapooia River was for many years one of the Willamette Valley area runs that was only accessible during hunting season.  Some years the water would line up that early in the Fall, other times it would not.

In 2018 Linn County reached a deal with Weyerhaeuser that the road would become a year round easement used for accessing the Willamette National Forest.  This is good news for boaters, as now any day of the year we can paddle the river.  There is a catch though, and that is that the 9 mile section described on has ballooned into a 15 mile run, and the section below that lost a couple miles.  The reason for this is that part of the deal is there is no parking along the easement section of the road.  This is all well signed and the rules are as follows:

Upper Calapooia Road

  • The road is open to the public unless the gates are closed. We will post a notification on Linn County's website when we are going to close the gates.
  • The road is posted no parking from the end of the pavement to the national forest boundary. Law enforcement is writing citations to anyone who violates the no parking restriction.
  • There is no legal access to the river from the public road until you get into the national forest.
  • Weyerhaeuser is actively logging in the vicinity so be very cautious and watch out for log trucks

Neither Priscilla or I had run any of the Calapooia before, so this year resolved to check it out.  We started with the lower section, then set our sites on the headwaters.  I didn't have high hopes for this run, but I had seen a photo of a ledge drop and the gradient was around 200 fpm mile so I figured we would get to run a couple new rapids amongst the logs we would surely be dealing with.

We had planned to go just the two of us because of the high probability of a suffer-fest ensuing, but Zach Levine reached out and was game so we met him in Holley with plans to do the headwaters down past the no parking area for a total of 16 miles.

We hit snow shortly after reaching the National Forest boundary, so walked a mile or so through the snow to the put in.  We lucked out with a road I had not seen on the satellite imagery that led right to the put in so there was no bushwhacking necessary.

There was a fun ledge adjacent to the campsite, then a few visible log portages.  We geared up and got ready to parta.


Just below the fun ledge were 3 log portages in a row, the first two were easy, the third would have been on the right but we took the problem solving option on the left.  Things moved along for a bit below these logs and there were some ledges amongst more wood dodging. 

The stream bed was good, but the wood had Priscilla on edge.  After a couple more log shimmies and a portage or two she was reaching the edge of her comfort zone.  After an island portage, the wind picked up in a big way for about five minutes.  Trees were waving wildly, shedding limbs into the river and pelting us with hail.  We pulled over to chat in an eddy, while talking over the options a 20' long, 6" diameter tree floated by, Priscilla decided this was the last piece of wood she wanted to avoid for the day and headed up to the road.   Zach and I would meet her at the next bridge, heading downstream quickly so we could pass the floating log before it could wedge itself in a problematic spot. 

Zach and I passed the mobile strainer and pushed on for awhile, but after a short section of wood free creek we reached a braided area with some wood that required scouting and came up with a plan.  We'd hike up to the road, find Priscilla, reload boats and drive down to the National Forest Boundary (which turns out was less than 1/4 mile downstream).  We floated a few options after meeting up with Priscilla, but it was 2PM and she wanted to return when there was enough time to enjoy the remaining section of the Calapooia instead of the option in front of us which was to paddle the remaining 15 miles as fast as we could to get to the end before we ran out of light.  

So instead we decided to head over to Wiley Creek and do a couple laps on Cascade and down through the ledges to the quarry.  Wiley was at a great level, and provided a stress-free finish to the day.

We did the run on 4/5/2019
Pat Welches Calapooia estimate rose from a little over 1,000 cfs to 1,400 cfs throughout the day.

We put in at the Keeney Creek Confluence:  44.240961, -122.360716
And took out 100 yards above the National Forest Boundary:   44.236851, -122.383142

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Fish Creek (North Umpqua drainage)

We were camping at the Williamson campground after a couple days at the Sycan River.  I had really wanted the Williamson to be running, and while it had some water, we didn't want to tarnish our memory of it by running it too low.  We had gone to bed that evening planning to head up to the Miracle Mile the next day for some sunny laps at a nice flow.  Waking up I checked some flows to see if I had missed anything the day before, and noticed a creek that has been on my list for some time had dropped into an ideal flow during the night.  This was Fish Creek of the North Umpqua drainage, a creek that has fallen out of fashion after PGE and the Forest Service dumped truck loads of logs into it.  It had been running at what I calculated to be a high-runnable flow earlier that week, and I had expected it to stay there after a week of heat.  As it turned out, it had cooled just enough to drop it to what I felt would be the ideal flow to run it at, about 300 cfs.

Cooking cherry pie for breakfast.
Maybe the sugar rush helped sway Brandon to pass on a splash and giggle day in the sun on the Miracle Mile, for what was sure to be a trying day in a foreboding canyon.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

I had heard that before the Forest Service and PGE (FS/PGE) had dumped a bunch of wood in there for fish habitat, it had been considered one of the best class V runs in Oregon.  Since we had made the decision to paddle the creek pretty last minute, and would be getting a late start (12:30 by the time we got to the put in), we decided to treat the trip as a reconnaissance mission with the goal of finding out what Fish Creek was all about, while still getting out before dark.  We decided at the put in we would portage liberally in the name of making efficient downstream process.

The shuttle logistics are easy on Fish Creek, not typical for an obscure Oregon creek.  
Putting in at the NF-3701 bridge.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

There is a short bit of easy warm up before the first of the FS/PGE log jams.  We portaged this on the left, and boated down to the next eddy where there was another FS/PGE log jam on the right.

On top of the first FS/PGE log jam, looking down at the second.

 This second jam was passable, but leads in to Go-Fish, the first class V rapid.  Go-Fish is a giant boulder rapid that had a compelling line amongst various class V hazards.  We walked Go-Fish over boulders on the left, putting back in when the gradient cooled down.   The next 3/4 mile was mostly runnable boulder gardens with a manageable amount and location of FS/PGE log jams, each rapid requiring a look and some route finding.  We did walk a couple rapids in this section.

Brandon and Zach sorting out one of the boulder gardens.

After some time, things eased off for a moment.  The breather promptly came to an end at a sharp left bend in the river, and we eddied out on the right.  We crawled out on another FS/PGE log jam to take a peak downstream.  I recognized this corner as the entrance to the Flocked Gorge, the steepest section of the run dropping over 100' in the next quarter mile through a gorge and the point where a team of rafters attempting the run had bailed out in 2012.  We were looking at a chaotic boulder pile with logs sticking out of it turn the corner to the right as the creek entered the gorge.  This didn't look like a place we had time to sort out.  I looked up to the right and noticed I could see daylight through the trees, we surmised there must be a land-bench up there.  Looking at the satellite imagery I had downloaded onto my phone it seemed like if we got up to that bench and traversed a short way we might be able to portage the Flocked Gorge in it's entirety in one go, saving loads of time.  Brandon lead the way, finding a nice game trail that got us up to the bench much easier and quicker than anticipated.  Once atop the bench, we traversed and tried to maintain elevation for awhile, after 10 minutes or so we could see the creek at the base of a debris-free gully.  Another 5 minutes and we had scrambled down the gully back to the creek, from which we drank quite a bit of water.  I crawled out to look back up at the exit of what we had portaged, I was happy we had walked around it.

Looking back up at the exit of the Flocked Gorge, the visible rapid drops about 10'.

Given the portage only took 20 minutes and was much easier than we had anticipated, I'd again choose the full portage over dealing with the Flocked Gorge at river level if I return.  I do wish we had had the time to peak over the edge into the gorge during the portage though, to see what was in there.

 Our portage route around the Flocked Gorge.

Downstream the challenging whitewater kept up, there were numerous boulder gardens that each required a scout and contemplation.

At a point where a notable tributary waterfall entered from the right, the river bent left into the second gorge at the start of The ReddsThe Redds are smoothed out bedrock rapids amongst a run full of boulder gardens.  To reduce the route planning we walked the lead in boulder garden to the first of The Redds and concentrated on the tough to scout bedrock portion of the rapid.  This rapid ended up being difficult to view entirely from above and a pocket on the left was hidden during the scout.  One team member ended up in it (still in his boat) and needed a rope to get out.  A good location to throw the rope from was tricky to get to and after a couple failed tossed, I had to do some climbing to get upstream to a place where I could connect and pull him out.  He was beat after many failed attempts to get out while keeping from being pulled back into the hydraulic and the event made an impression on us as a group.  This was one of the few rapids that seemed mandatory, and the first person to go won't have safety.

 This is the first of The Redds, it does not have a reasonable portage option, the first person won't get safety, and while you can see the line from the scout, you don't see the hazard.  Just below and to the left (river-left) of Zach in this photo is the pocket, to his right is a shelf that offers safe passage.

 Downstream The Redds continue with more boulder gardens leading into bedrock rapids inside gorges, these gorges were all runnable and good quality even if they tend to look ominous from above.

Working our way through The Redds.

The Redds continue for a bit, some of these bedrock rapids have boulder gardens leading into them, some are stand alone.  The length of the day, the late start, and the earlier scare were starting to weigh on us as we continued to push downstream as efficiently as we could while keeping it safe and mistake-free. 

Challenging rapids continued as The Redds began to fade away and the creek returned to boulder gardens that were only occasionally interrupted by bits of bedrock.  Some rapids we ran and some we portaged.  The wood was present down here but we definitely portaged more rapids because they were hard than because of wood on this trip, with the majority of the rapids being runnable.  We were looking out for some powerlines overhead, because satellite imagery had indicated they marked the end of the hard whitewater.

Not out of it yet, tackling one a rapid at a time,.

Once the powerlines came into view we were faced with a final obstacle at Endgame, a landslide rapid providing one last major puzzle to sort before things cooled down.  Endgame looked heinous from above with full sized trees stripped of their bark jutting out of the boulders, aimed skyward.  We didn't bother looking at it and portaged left.  The landslide kept us from being able to portage all of Endgame at river level though, so I set about trying to scout the bottom corner of the rapid, which looked like it might allow passage.  Whether we could paddle through the corner or not was likely going to be the difference between finishing with light to spare or having to find an up and around route with the likely result of finishing the trip in the dark.  I squeezed up and through some logs to a point I could see the corner was clear and there was a nice eddy on the right.  However there was also a visible logjam downstream and the corner move into the eddy was not a gimme.  We weighed the risk of the move to the risk of paddling in the dark and decided to paddle the corner into the eddy.  

A low water photo of Endgame from below, the surveyor is standing in the eddy we caught above the log jam.  The photo is taken from on top of the log jam.

Once in the eddy, we were able to see that there were two more eddies immediately in front of the log jam on either side if the surveyor eddy had been blown, so it would not be as nerve racking on a return trip.  I also noted upon looking back upstream the trees in the rapid did not block the line, and the rapid was runnable class V.  A quick portage on the right around the jam and we made short work of crossing under the powerlines, breathing a little easier now with only 1.5 miles of read and run left on Fish Creek.  Turning left onto the North Umpqua there was less than a mile left of class II and within 30-40 minutes of passing under the powerlines we had reached the take out bridge, highly impressed by Fish Creek and happy to be done with 30 minutes of light to spare.

Most of the photos of Fish Creek were taken from my cell phone, in stark contrast to the quality of Priscilla's photos found in most of the recent trip reports on this site.


Fish Creek runs most predictably in the Spring from snowmelt.

Our flows for the day in the USGS 14315950 FISH CREEK ABV SLIPPER CREEK NR TOKETEE FALLS, OR

The gage is right there at the put in, producing an exact representation of what you will have when paddling the creek.  300 felt like a good flow, it could be done with more or less water based on your personal taste.  It is worth noting that there is a diversion upstream, and that can change the flows abruptly on rare occasions (up to 150 cfs).  If this is going on the change will be visible on the regular gage.

 The gage station at the put in.                                                         It was reading 4.8' when we put in.


 Click on the graphic to enlarge.

Take out at the NF-4775 bridge (43.295861, -122.478533) over the North Umpqua River, a left turn about 39 miles upstream from Colliding Rivers Boat ramp/Glide on Highway 138 and about 4 miles downstream of the Toketee Falls turn-off.

To get to the put in (43.229973, -122.447593) return to highway 138 and head upstream/east 6.2 miles past Toketee Falls and turn right towards Watson Falls on Fish Creek Rd/NF-37.  In 2.9 miles turn right onto Camas Creek Road.  In about 2 miles you will pass the Toketee Airstrip, according to the Diamond Lake Ranger Station the road gets plowed of snow up to this point.  The Ranger Station can be reached at (541) 498-2531 to confirm.   After passing the airstrip it's 1.4 miles to the bridge over Fish Creek.

The Toketee Airstrip has a SNOTEL site.

Nomenclature and History

Go-Fish:  As in an appropriate response to the question of "hey bud, you about to go Ace that line through there?"

Flocked Gorge:  This is the stoutest gorge of the run, located near where Gabe Flock pinned on an early descent of Fish Creek, loosing his gear and nearly his life.  The gorge isn't totally f**cked, but it is close.  Inside are all of the hardest types of features found on Fish Creek crammed into a gorge and turned up to 10.  This was the final straw for a rafting attempt of the creek that decided they had had enough and hiked out after peering into the Flocked Gorge.

The Redds:  Salmon find gravel strewn sections of river to lay eggs, they kick up the gravel to smooth it out and lay their eggs.  These smooth spots where the eggs are laid are called salmon redds.  Most of Fish Creek is full of boulders, except this portion of the run where there are intermittent smoothed out sections of bedrock inside short gorges.

Endgame:  This is the final class V obstacle on the creek, the rest of the creek was read and run and portage-less below this rapid. The stress-level drops considerably once past the powerlines, which are just below this rapid.


Fish Creek of the Umpqua drainage has an interesting boating history.  It rumbles through a class V canyon with bridge to bridge access near Toketee Falls, flowing parallel to Copeland Creek.

In 2000, the legendary Dan Coyle did a solo trip down Fish Creek, putting it on the map for boaters.  He wrote up a description, but that document is no longer available online (that I could find).

From the pdxkayaker forum archive

 A few years later, there was a bad pin between the first large cascade (Go-Fish), and the crux gorge (Flocked Gorge).  The paddler survived, but it was a close call.  "My air pocket was gone by then, and my knee and ankle were twisted badly and my foot still caught by the cockpit as I was mostly free but now facing up and the brunt of the flow still on me. I had to do another superman move with no breath yet! Pulled myself up far enough to get my foot out thank god"

Then came the wood.  An attempt was made by the boating community to have boater safety considered when placing fish habitat in this creek.  I don't know the full story, but the end result was the wood was placed anyway, and in a fashion that didn't take into account recreational boating.

Fish Creek, a contender for the best class V adventure run in Oregon, descended into obscurity as paddlers learned from each other through either word of mouth or the hard way about the placement of the wood.

Fast forward a half decade, and that obscurity played a roll in the next documented descent of the creek.  A group of rafters was in the area, and the "itch for an adventure hit some of [them] like a bad case of poison oak".  Because the creek had fallen off the radar, it wasn't common knowledge in the boating community what was on the creek, or that it was full of logs placed by the Forest Service and PGE.

These rafters found their adventure, and then some.

I am not the only boater who has noted Fish Creek on a map during the last half decade, or while driving over on Hwy 138, gotten curious and raked the internet for information, to turn up only the story of the rafters, which was pretty hard to look past.  However, when I read between the lines, I got the impression their by-the-book approach would have led to a similar experience on any class V run of that nature. 

I spent some time digging a little deeper and turned up some snippets of information from the pdxkayaker yahoo forum (screen grabs seen above), saw some rumblings about past debacles on facebook, viewed satellite imagery that appeared to show a manageable wood situation, and fed off enthusiasm from other boaters who also wanted to find out what Fish Creek was all about (namely Mike Goglin and Joseph Hatcher, but also others around various Oregon campfires).

By 2015 it was a top five objective for me, but year after year I let opportunities slip by.

Then, waking up near Chiloquin after a great couple days on the Sycan in the Spring of 2019 with plans to paddle the Miracle Mile on the way home I perused some flows while killing time in the morning.  Fish Creek had been holding at what I felt would be at the high end of runnable all week so it hadn't even been something I was holding in the cards for this weekend, yet despite warm weather the gauge dropped to exactly what I wanted to see it at for my first trip (~300 cfs, like the rafters had).

I sent a text to Mike, who I had been planning to run Fish Creek with this year if the opportunity arose, lamenting the missed opportunity.  As it happened he was out of town anyway and I knew from conversation earlier in the week Joseph wasn't available either so I wasn't too bummed I hadn't been prepared for the opportunity.  I mentioned it in passing to the group from the Sycan at breakfast, figuring we had already done some exploring this weekend and everyone was probably ready to take 'er easy on the way home.  To my surprise both Zach and Brandon were all about it, Zach even mentioned tongue-in-cheek that he felt we had been jipped by the lack of suffering on the Sycan, and had aspirations Fish Creek would deliver the adversity we had evaded so far.  Since we had been planning a casual day we were getting a late start, but as it turned out, from where we were camping it was less than two hours to Fish Creek.  With info from the Diamond Lake Ranger District that the road would be plowed to at least within a mile and a half of the put-in, a gung-ho group, and a sunny day with perfect flows, this wasn't an opportunity to be missed.

Priscilla and I sorted out logistics on the drive over (she was going to be taking the day off from boating), and by 12:30 Zach Levine, Brandon Lake and I had driven a snow-free road to the put in and were floating under the access bridge on Fish Creek.

Photo: Priscilla Macy

By the end of the day there had been two throw-rope saves, loads of scouting, a fair bit of portaging,  and oodles of good rapids run.  Upon arriving at the take out and mentally exhausted from the no rest, full speed, quick decision making, no mistakes allowed 8 hour reconnaissance mission down Fish Creek, I had claimed it was a one time trip for me.  Less than a day later, after a good night of sleep, I was already looking forward to my next time in there.  Though an early start will be a prerequisite.

It really is a hell of a run, the wood from the Forest Service has shifted and while there are some portages and an added level of attention is required, the good outweighs the bad on Fish Creek.  If you are an adventurous boater who likes runs similar to the Clear Fork Cowlitz, you will be happy to know we have our own flavor of full day adventure right here in the heart of Oregon's Cascades.

And it runs from snowmelt!


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sycan River: Coyote Bucket

Photo: Priscilla Macy

 7.5 miles

Stream: Most of the Sycan River is flat, the flattest part is the Sycan Marsh, where the stream collects water from snowmelt, spilling out into a kid and canoe friendly upper section that can be paddled.  As the Sycan approaches, then combines with the Sprague River, it again spreads out and braids.

The combined Sprague and Sycan.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy

Between the upper section coming out of the Marsh, and the flat land where it meets the Sprague, the Sycan drops through Coyote Bucket.  In this section are two long stretches of continuous whitewater, the first "bucket" is class IV, and the second "bucket" is harder.

An example of the boulders that make up the river bed/bank and where they came from.
Photo: Priscilla Macy 

The rapids are made of columnar and vesicular basalt from the Winema Volcanic Field that has collapsed from the canyon rim, similar to the rock found along the Upper Klamath.  The two buckets are split by 20 minutes of easy floating.  The whitewater is like a mix of the Upper EF Hood, Upper Klamath, and NF Payette.

Barret Titus, stirring the mixing pot.

 Photo: Yann Crist-Evans

Access is both easy and challenging, there is no hiking required, but the roads can be tricky to navigate and there needs to be someone in the group comfortable navigating primitive roads using satellite imagery, as when the Sycan has water, some of the roads are not passable.  This can all be sorted out beforehand though, the red roads are elevated to keep them from becoming bogs in the Spring and are used to get to the put in.  The take out is either very easy at a paved bridge if you want to float 6 miles of flat water at the end of the day, or a bit of an adventure if you want to take out at the end of the whitewater.

A high density of mosquitoes at a take out in the vicinity of Chester Springs motivated us to load quickly.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy

As a snowmelt run, this river runs when it's warm out.  This, combined with loads of great primitive camping options, make it a good place to spend a weekend.

From the put in, the Sycan rolls around a few lazy bends before slowly ramping it's way from flat water to class IV.  The first bucket has a long section of whitewater flowing through it and can mostly be read and ran, with a couple rapids that are worth a quick look if no one knows the lines, especially since there are sieves outside of the main lines. 

Brandon Lake dodging ordnance from Wile E. Coyote, the stand out rapid from the first bucket.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy

 Eventually this fun section of whitewater ends and the river returns to lazy floating where you can kick your feet up for a bit, or there are some nice places to stop for lunch but be ready for mosquitoes on the banks in places.

 Photo: Priscilla Macy

Near the end of the meandering the walls start to rise back up, and flat water gives way to easy whitewater at the beginning of the second bucket.  This ramps up to intermediate rapids and eventually there is a scouting eddy on the right above the horizon line at the second sustained section of challenging whitewater, which is a step up from the first bucket dropping 120 feet in the next half mile.  Most groups will want to do an extended scout on the right of both Roadrunner and BoB, the first two parts of this long section of whitewater.

Moving fast through Roadrunner.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy

Roadrunner is run mostly center-right, down to an eddy on the right, just across from the largest boulder visible at river-level.  

Yann Crist-Evans nears the end of Roadrunner, with the eddy that needs to be caught in order to scout BoB circled, just across the river from the largest boulder at stream-level.
Photo: Priscilla Macy 

A thorough scout of BoB is in order from this small eddy, as the river bends right through more hydraulics.  It is not so much BoB itself that is of concern, but the eddy that needs to be caught on river-left above Pin-Laden, which is the next rapid and one that paddlers may elect to portage.  This river-left eddy above Pin-Laden has a bugger rock guarding it if you try to boof into the eddy, it worked better to catch the middle of the eddy, don't miss!

Pin-Laden looks to have a line in the middle, but everyone in the group walked it both days.
 Photo: Yann Crist-Evans

Downstream is a long stretch of quality whitewater that is right on the edge between what we were comfortable reading and running and wanting to shore scout.  We always found eddies on river-right when we wanted to scout but they come up fast, and pass by faster if you are not scouting ahead.

  Photo: Priscilla Macy

The last distinct rapid is Fantasia, a rapid that fits it's own definition pretty well, with a boof at the top reminiscent of a scaled down version of this iconic rapid on the Fantasy Falls (1:41) section of the NF Mokelumne in California.

                                                            Between moves in Fantasia.
  Photo: Priscilla Macy

Below Fantasia the river spreads out a bit as it approaches, then splits around an island.  This section can be read and run, but scouting would provide the cleanest lines.  At the island, we went left.  The whitewater abruptly ends as the second bucket pours out into slack water a short way after this island and the action is over.  Some class I-II ends at another island and what can be a hard to see fence going across the river, we took a right channel and were able to duck under it.

Myself, Barret Titus, and Zach Levine at the finish line.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

Below the fence it's just a relaxing 10 minute float down to the take out if you parked at one of the upper take outs, or much further if you used the logistically easy take out at the Drew Rd bridge.

Soaking it in as we approach the take out near Chester Springs.
  Photo: Priscilla Macy

Flows:  The Sycan has a gauge, make sure to choose "instantaneous flow" in the drop down marked by the green arrow and box in the photo below. We were there April 26 and 27, and flows felt great both days.



The area around here is rugged, and many of the roads are primitive.  You will need to be comfortable navigating using satellite imagery on your phone.  Many of the marked roads cross through marshes that are not passable when the Sycan has enough water to kayak.  Fortunately the put in can be accessed via good gravel roads that are raised above the boggy areas.  There is good reception and 4G in the area.

A cell tower visible from the shuttle.

Because of the road situation, there are not step-by-step directions here, you will need to plan your own route.

The put in is here: 42.615212, -121.346747

This is where the whitewater ends (42.548507, -121.313715) there are a couple roads that can be used to reach take outs less than a mile downstream, near Chester Springs.  It's a good idea to park at a spot easily visible from the river so you don't accidentally float by.  Remember to shut behind you any fence-gates that you open, and know the mud is sloppier than it might look.  4wd and clearance recommended if you plan to use one of these take outs.

If you want simple logistics, or are not prepared to drive primitive roads, you can take out here (42.485369, -121.278400) at the Drews Rd bridge, though that would require floating 6 miles of flat water.

The Drews bridge take out, where the gauge is located.  If you use this bridge as a take out, keep in mind the whitewater ends in those hills in the background.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

Note:  If you follow Google Maps from Bend to the put in, it will send you to a ford of the Sycan River, which is not possible when the Sycan is high enough to kayak.  The correct route is to first drive to Beatty, then up the Sycan.

Joe Anonymous and the Coyote Bucket

I had never heard about the Sycan River, or noted it on any maps.  It's in an area east of Klamath Falls that looks pretty flat on a topo-map.  After running the Williamson River a couple years ago, a local commented on this website about the Sycan River through the Coyote Bucket and thought we might be interested in checking it out.  Looking at it on a map, I thought it would be a neat trip but a long drive and lots of flat water kept it from being a top priority for me.  Over the last couple years I started clicking in pieces of the puzzle, like locating roads that would cut out hours of flat water, and tracking down a gauge.  Some last minute consultation between Priscilla and the Klamath Lake Land Trust to learn about an area that doesn't have much online info, and friends willing to roll the dice on something new sent the plan into Go-mode.  We knew trips like this always have the potential to be more work than they are worth, but after two trips through the canyon we couldn't wipe the grins off our faces.  What a place to be.  Thanks for the tip Joe anonymous, if I ever find out who you are there will be a beer or two coming your way.