After my first run of Oregon Hole Gorge I wanted to run the South Fork Gorge and was told that it was a "step up." This is definitely true when the gorges have some water in them and the South Fork Gorge becomes fierce, but at lower flows the South Fork Gorge is a quick fun run. I'd say with 400-600 cfs the gorge is class IV+ for kayakers.

Kayaking in the South Fork of the Smith Gorge

Kayaking in the South Fork of the Smith Gorge

I've seen the gorge run sucessfully in rafts as low as 500 cfs and as high as 2000 cfs. It is a very fun technical challenge in a raft. At higher flows the rapids develop big holes and there is little recovery time between rapids so it becomes Class V.

Raft carnage in the South Fork Gorge

Raft carnage in the South Fork Gorge

Beyond the challenge of the rapids, this is a beautiful place and should be savored like a fine wine.

Rafting one of the bigger rapids in the South Fork of the Smith River Gorge

Rafting one of the bigger rapids in the South Fork of the Smith River Gorge

To take out you can either carry your boats up the narrow trail on the right just below the South Fork Bridge or float a few miles down to Jedidiah Smith State Park for an easier take out.

Comments