This section of the Clackamas River can be a very long 9 miles of a paddler’s life. Don’t attempt to paddle this section unless you are with someone that knows the run very well. In between rapids this section offers great scenery but don’t get caught looking around for to long because the next big rapid could be right around the corner. In the first 2 miles take time to get a solid warm up. This run starts as class II/III with some fun play spots and a few good rapids. After this, the next 2.5 miles pick up and offer some difficult class IV white water.
Mile 2-4.5(Gates Rapid and Hole in the River Rapid): Gates rapid is the first significant drop; look for a line of boulders blocking the flow of the river. Below this is Hole in the River, scout for a large hole on river left. For the next little bit the river makes many sharp turns, scout around these corners for wood.
Mile 4.5(Rocky’s Rapid): This rapid is marked by a sharp right turn were the river crashes into the rock wall, scout this rapid. Below this is Alder Flat Campground, this is a great place to take out if the upper portion of this run is too much for your paddling ability. Beyond the campground the river becomes more difficult. There is also a pay phone a mile down the trail at Ripplebrook Ranger Station in the event of an emergency.
Mile 4.6(Drop Stopper Rapid): This rapid gets its name from a large boulder at the bottom of the rapid in the center. Scout this drop. In the half mile below Dropper Stopper the river makes two sharp turns and crashes into the tall rock walls. Below the second sharp bend is a rapid that goes by the name Prelude. Scout Prelude and the short section below this drop, because after this drop is class VI Killer Fang. Take out and portage Killer Fang on river right, do not attempt this drop because almost all of the water disappears under the rocks.
Below Killer Fang there are two more class IV boulder gardens, Sieve and Rivers Revenge, both should be scouted. There are multiple lines through each but they may contain logs. Beyond this, the river mellows out to class II for the last mile to the take out.