This is a great step up run for people trying to move from beginner to intermediate boater. However this run is fast, shallow and continuous so boaters should have a solid roll and be a class III boater.
Starting at the put-in at the Bruno Mt road, fast and shallow water are a good warm up for the rest of the run. Hwy 22 follows the river most of the way but the river does pull away from the highway in several sections. After the put-in the river will angle to the right and meet up with the highway as you bounce through a small rapid.
Ricochet Rapid is a long class III/IV rapid that is scoutable from the road about 1/2 mile downstream of the put-in and just upstream from Whispering Falls Campground. The 2nd time the river bends to the right you'll bounce through a short boily rapid that leads into Ricochet. If anyone has trouble here collect your people and gear and think about if you really want to continue.
As you approach the highway, the river bends back to the left and you enter Ricochet rapid requiring several quick moves and solid bracing. At flows below 1700 cfs the left side is the deepest. At flows above 1700 cfs alot more options open up. Look for catch on the fly waves and stickier holes to surf. At around 2000 cfs most of the holes on the left side turn into flushing waves.
For the next two or three miles you run through some fun class II & III boogie water. There are waves to surf but most are catch on the fly so stay alert. But don't wear yourself out because the really good stuff comes along later.
As you pass under Cooper's Ridge Bridge, the North Santiam River moves away from Highway 22 again and you'll pass by the old wood mill. Keep your eye open for some great rapids and play opportunities through this whole section.
Just above Church Street Bridge, the river splits around an island. The right chute has a pushy but really fun class III rapid with a green wall on river right. Eddy out and surf everything you can here. The rapid ends at the bridge.
About a mile downstream you'll approach the biggest rapid on the trip in the left channel of an island. It's steep and rocky. At high flows it is very pushy with big holes. At flows above 1700 cfs you can paddle the right channel and avoid it altogether. You can scout it on river left.
The run ends at the Blowout Road Bridge. As you round the corner above the bridge, there are several fun waves to catch on the fly. If you miss all of those waves, catch the giant eddy on the left. At the top of the eddy is a fantastic but shallow wave that is great for front surfing and spinning. However, it's not very deep but it is an auto spin wave and it's great for learning to surf and spin. At flows of around 2000 cfs and up this smaller wave feeds into a bigger deeper wave in the center of the river. The center wave requires advanced skills just to catch it but well worth the work.