The Waterfalls of the North Fork Clackamas
Spring 2009

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It was just another day on our local favorite, though we were a little more cautious than usual because we hadn't been on the run since the huge flood event earlier in the year. The good news was that the run was as wood-free as any of us could remember, the floods flushed almost all the wood out. The bad news is I hit a rock and broke my kayak in a drop just upstream of the waterfall section, which means I had to hike out of the canyon with my boat on my back.

It was a multi-sport kind of day for me.

Luckily the boat-break occurred just above the falls, and the old abandoned road that we usually use to portage continues out of the canyon if you keep going up instead of back down to the river.

We arrived at the usual spot where you begin the portage around the semi-runnable fifty footer and Pete said we should go look at the lead-in falls. The lead-in to the fifty footer usually isn't run because the portage is much more difficult if you run it, but on this day we decided to give it a look. I trailed along to take photos and set pseudo-safety. Might was well make myself useful.

We got to the lead-in falls, which was closer to the portage trailhead than I remembered. Pete and I had run this drop many years ago, but my memory of it was pretty hazy. The drop looked good and everyone fired it up pretty quick without problems.

The North Fork Canyon.
Photo taken during my climb out of the canyon.

Scouting the first of three waterfalls on the North Fork.
Usually this drop isn't run because the portage trail is just upstream from here. Running this drop 'greatly increases portaging angst' according to the guidebook. Very true!

Brad Coleman running the first falls.

Josh Knapp boofin'er.
The lead-in to the fifty-footer is visible in the background.

Downstream was the portage around the fifty-footer, which is doable on the left but still very time consuming compared to the short ten-minute hike up and over on the old road above the first falls.

Looking down at the lip of the super sketchy fifty foot falls. Josh is barely visible on the left.
They went up and over the rock wall on the left to portage the falls.

Once past the big falls, we arrived at the third and final falls on the North Fork, which is also the most frequently run. After a quick scout Josh probed it up on the left side, then Pete and Brad on the right, shown below. Everyone had good lines, stay upright, line up, and plug in..

Pete Giordano and Brad Coleman scouting Stairway to Heaven.

Josh probes it up.

Brad tries the right side.

Pete tries the right side.

See the complete trip report on the North Fork for maps, flow info, etc.