White Salmon River

White Salmon River, Green Truss to BZ Corner , WA

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Rafting + Kayaking, IVRafting + Kayaking, VWaterfallsGeneral Wildlife
Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks
class of rapids: 
Day trip
2 hours. 3.5 hours for your first time.
Total distance: 
4.90 miles
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Road condition: 
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
Not Required
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Eric Adsit | 09.25.13
Double Drop.

Adventure Contributor

As of September 25, 2013, there was an extremely hazardous logjam at the bottom of Lower Zig Zag. While it is possible to run the rapid and portage only the log jam, it is imperative that paddlers do not miss their line. A portage around the entire rapid on river left is recommended for anyone not extremely familiar with Lower Zig Zag.

Trip Report

Great scenery. Year-round flows. Easy access.
Sometimes crowded. Frequently shifting log jams. Cold water.

Tread carefully down the dusty cliff, splash into the frigid water, and start boofing: so begins the standard, the staple, of Columbia Gorge paddling.

The Green Truss offers some of the region's most consistent whitewater, and it is easily accessed year round.

After descending the steep and dusty (or snowy!) hillside, paddlers will enjoy a short pool of flat water before the action starts. Several Class III-IV chutes and boulder gardens build in intensity and length until Meatball, a Class IV dogleg to the left.

Immediately after Meatball, the river develops a ledge character, starting with the two-part Bob’s Falls. The first part of Bob’s drops about 10 feet into a sticky hole. A short, moving pool leads to another, narrower, 5-foot ledge.

A short, twisty rapid then leads to the pool above the main event: Big Brother. Although frequently paddled, this 27-foot waterfall requires a precise line to avoid a piton on the left or getting pushed into a dangerous cave on the right. Paddlers can portage on river left and put in above or below Little Brother, a 15-foot vertical drop.

A short boulder garden then leads directly into Double Drop, a steep constriction that drops roughly 18 feet in two stages. Scout or portage on the left. A river-wide ledge with a sticky hole on the left called Karen’s Box follows before the river calms to mostly Class III boulder gardens with seemingly miraculous springs pouring like faucets from the cliffs.

After about a mile the river narrows once more into the Zig Zag canyon. Divided into two parts, Upper and Lower Zig Zag are tight, twisting constrictions that are sure to thrill any paddler. While portaging is possible, it is long, difficult, and requires the use of ropes to safely descend back to river level. Paddlers attempting the Truss should be prepared to run both Upper and Lower Zig Zag.

From here, paddlers will enter the Orletta section, featuring boily rapids with more push than their upstream counterparts. The White Salmon takes one more plunge over BZ falls, a 10-foot pourover with a massive hole, before the takeout.

Related Video

Oregon Field Guide | 02.21.13
The White Salmon River Runs Free: Breaching the Condit Dam

Noteworthy Hazards/Rapids

  1. Bob's Falls: Two ledges with sticky holes at most flows. Scout on the right, avoid the middle.
  2. Big Brother: A 27-foot waterfall with a hazardous cave in the landing zone on the right and rocks on the left. Scout and/or portage on the left.
  3. Little Brother: a 15-foot waterfall best run on the left. This is immediatley after Big Brother. Those that portaged Big Brother can use a rope to put in above Little Brother, or easily end their portage below.
  4. Double Drop: Two back to back pourovers that total 18 feet. The first hole is generally more forgiving than it looks, but the second has been known to cause swims. Scout on the left. Portaging is difficult but can also be done on the left.

River Information

Character: Pool/Drop, Gorge, Steep Creek
River Users: Kayaks, Rafts
Average Gradient: 132 fpm fpm
Recommended flow min: 900 cfs
Recommended flow max: 3000 cfs
Gauge Station Name: Underwood

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