Length: 20 miles kayaking + 8 mile hike / 5 days
Dates: June 19 – 23, 2013
In 2011, four of our guides embarked on an exploratory trip down the Chetco River in southern Oregon. Their incredible experience inspired us to try and share this stunning river with our guests. This new trip for 2013 is not for the faint-of-heart. You’ll be physically challenged, but rewarded with paddling a gorgeous emerald waterway that few people have ever seen.
The Chetco River is nestled between the better known Smith and Illinois Rivers, both renowned for their stunning clear water and epic whitewater. To reach the remote location, we’ll traverse the Kalmiopsis Wilderness by foot and then paddle down the river by inflatable kayak. We’ll travel light and pack in only necessary supplies.
We’ll start the expedition by driving to Chetco Pass where you’ll get a view of the Chetco River Canyon and across the vast Kalmiopsis Wilderness. From there we’ll load up supplies and hike 4 miles down to the river via old mining trails.
The 2002 Biscuit Fire dropped thousands of trees across the trail from the Chetco Pass to Slide Creek. We’ve been working with local groups to clear this trail for the past year, but you should expect at least one very challenging mile of hiking over, under, and around logs.
When we reach the river, it will be time to pump up and rig the boats. We’ll help prep you for the river with an inflatable kayaking 101 course. We’ll camp at put-in that night. After a simple breakfast, you’ll jump in your IK for inflatable kayaking 201 as you head down the gorgeous Chetco River.
The upper gorge of the Chetco is beautiful beyond belief. Its tight, intimate canyon is one that should be savored so you’ll want to take your time traveling down the Class IV rapids. We’ll stop to scout all the big rapids and may choose to walk our IKs around a few of them.
The next couple of days, we’ll just enjoy this stunning wilderness. There are many places to stop, swim the crystal-clear pools and take a few side hikes up the small creeks that feed the Chetco.
On day 3, we’ll cross the wilderness boundary, where the river opens up on the approach to Tolman Ranch. A few miles past Tolman Ranch we’ll enter the Lower Chetco Gorge and paddle through a couple of long Class IV+ rapids, definitely testing the skills you learned over the past few days.