I first found out about this run through Eric Brown's description in Paddling Oregon. Eric has actually paddled this section, an impressive feat in my opinion. Of course, he doesn't recommend that anyone else do it, describing a log-choked, inescapable box canyon and unportagable, unscoutable class five with wood.
Eric sums up his description with these words: "No one is ever glad to have done this run. It has been described as 'Pure Hate'".
I don't recommend running this section either; it has too much wood, there is absolutely no way out if something goes wrong, and Eric's description is dead-on: you have to run everything.. no scouting, no portaging.
That said, I DO recommend exploring this beautiful, awe-inspiring gorge on a warm summer day when the creek is a mere trickle and the idea of a pristine, verdant gorge seems like just the thing.
Pete and I originally planned on hiking the gorge so we could figure out the wood situation and run it later. Of course, our desire to paddle this section evaporated almost immediately when we got into the gorge, but we were very glad we visited this place at the end of the day.
I won't give a blow-by-blow description of the gorge, because part of the joy of this place is discovering it for yourself. However, I can assure you that you won't soon forget the crystalline pools, huge, overhanging walls, and lush vegetation that seems to drip from the walls.. this is a very special place.
The gorge is very short, maybe .75 miles, but it feels a lot longer. That said, don't start at the point in Paddling Oregon where Eric recommends people put in, otherwise you'll end up walking 1.5 miles down a perfectly flat creekbed feeling stupid like we did. I think it took us about two hours to hike/swim/climb our way down the gorge proper.
DIRECTIONS TO THE GORGE:
Drive up to the put-in bridge for Upper Quartzville.
Continue past the bridge. The road will go away from Quartzville, up and around a small tributary creek. This is the creek you will be hiking out on.
Continue upstream until you see a large rocky bluff on the left, bordering the road. Look for an opening in the trees on the right, where you can see the creek. Anywhere in here is a good place to do a steep slide/scramble down to the creek.
From there, I'll let you figure it out; more fun that way. =) Be safe, take your time, and have fun!
When the gorge opens up for the last time and the creek flattens out, you'll be cruising along and you'll see a small creek coming in on the right down a long, wide, fun-looking slide that drops gradually about 15 feet.
This is the creek that the road cuts up and around just above the take-out bridge. To save yourself some time and effort, hike up this little creek maybe 50 yards, then climb the steep hill on the river-left side of the creek. If you do it right, you'll save yourself a lot of uphill walking from the take-out bridge.
From there, it will be around 1-2 miles of walking on a flat, paved road back to your car.
CAMPING: This area is pretty remote, so there are tons of free camping spots up every little side road.
First: You will have to do some swimming and wading, so be sure you have a very warm day. The gorge is deeply shadowed for the most part, so hot weather is essential because the water is very cold. (Swimming the gorge is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day, but you could become hypothermic on a cold day.)
Second: Wear good shoes, and if you go in alone be sure to tell someone where you are going. If you twist an ankle in there you're in big trouble, because there is no way out but downstream, which involves some very steep scrambling that would be next to impossible for an injured person.