The McKenzie River is an awesome Spring run when you have some good weather. There is a lot of river bums that flock to this river in the early season months, rain or shine. I was very glad it was sunny when I went. It was perfect in a full wet suit as is. The water is so clear, and so cold.
The drive took roughly 3 hours. Leaving Medford the night before was the right move for sure. From Eugene, the put in was only about 35 minutes away at Finn Rock. I had researched a few different runs and I felt ready for this one. A great link was McKenzie River Details by BLM which was the easiest map to use that I could find online. The best shuttle information I got from Northwest Rafters Association. I have made great river connections from this site. If you have your own equipment and you are on a budget, this site will help you as it did me. I paid $30 for the first trip and $20 for the additional stretch. There are many neat river stops and stores on Highway 126 for fuel and food.
The biggest rapid on my first run was a 3(-) in early April, and that was Martin Rapids. Directly after that, I bailed out at Helfrich Landing County Park. This was an awesome run, however, I had only been on the water at that point for a little less than 2 hours. The water was moving right along and I oared quite a bit. So, I called the shuttle back up and arranged for another run.
This time I drove up to Paradise and launched. It is by far the better run up there as far as scenic beauty in my opinion. The water is also more technical even at the higher water level I floated. I pulled out at the boat ramp at Forest Glen Landing. It was a great day on the water. I was reminded that this river is excellent for hot summer camping. The temperature at water side stay 20 degrees lower than the road side, and the dense tree canopies at McKenzie River Park would keep you cool even on the hottest day.
I look forward to spending a few nights there this summer with the children. I will also be back for the hot springs, which would have been a perfect end to a day on the river, however, I had to get home to the kiddos!
Mary Jane Feetham
A self-guided adventure on the Smith River that can be done in a day!
The Smith River is an amazing float to do in March. Just wear a wet suit! From the Rogue Valley, the popular put – ins on the Smith River are roughly two hours away. This makes a perfect day trip for those Rogue rafters that are looking for some new scenery. Hiochi, California hosts several experienced river guides and very inexpensive and reliable shuttle drivers.
I would not consider myself a expert rafter. I took on the Middle Fork of the Smith River this March (2016). I wore a wet suit, wet suit socks and boots, a long sleeve running shirt, and a wind breaker. I added a signal mirror and a knife to my life jacket. It rained a few times during the 3 hour float, and I was comfortable. I chose to float from Slant Bridge to Ruby Deventer State Park.
The color of the Smith at higher water in Spring is a spectacular emerald green. Water flows in from drainages throughout the float creating many picture perfect moments. As the water drops, the Smith River is the clearest navigable waterway in the Pacific Northwest.
This section of the Middle Fork of the Smith River offers Class II – III (-), which is quite thrilling when you are less experienced on white water. I did this mission as a self-guided trip, but the Smith River offers up to Class IV rapids in different sections, including the world class Oregon Hole Gorge!
To choose a Smith River float that is right for you, there is a very informational online article by Flow State about your options for Smith River trips. However, most helpful was the information and shuttle service offered by Brad “Bearfoot” Camden of Hiochi, California. He is the all around river guide that can give you the information you need to choose the perfect Smith River trip. Brad is very well known and his shuttle rates are extremely affordable. I paid $50 for a shuttle and received invaluable information about the Smith River for free. Brad is also very involved in preserving the Smith River and involved tributaries that are under attack from a proposed Nickel mining operation. Outside Magazine did an article on Bearfoot Brad and the importance of preserving these waters. Find Brad Camden on Facebook to sign a petition as soon as possible. And get out there . . . the Smith River is waiting!
Mary Jane Feetham