3 Bears Title
(Turner Bridge to Glen Avon Bridge)

3 Bears Info BoxThe Molalla River has several great sections for paddling. This section is the most often run as it has a good mix of Class 3 rapids, a couple Class 4 rapids, and some great playspots. This section also is runnable at a broad range of flows. As the water rises, this run changes from a good beginner/intermediate run to a big-water intermediate/advanced section. The scenery is excellent throughout the run.

River Description(Kayak/Canoe/Raft)
There are some fast waves immediately below the put-in and a couple good rapids around the corner. This is the warm-up for Papa Bear which lies just a half-mile below the put-in. There are several different ways to run Papa Bear but most boaters choose the right-side at the top; being careful to stay away from the cave along the right bank. Once past the cave, the rapid widens with some swirly waves down the middle and a fast plunge along the right or left at the bottom. There are rocks in the middle of the bottom drop.

Below Papa Bear is about a mile of good Class 3 rapids leading up to Mama Bear. Mama Bear is generally considered the hardest rapid on this section. The rapid starts with a sharp right turn which tends to push boaters into some rocks or big holes on the left, followed by a 15 foot slot between 2 huge boulders with a pushy hole. Below the hole there are rocks and holes in the middle and then a fast flush for a hundred yards into a narrow gorge. At high water Mama Bear approaches Class 5.

After Mama Bear the river calms down with plenty of good Class 2-3 rapids but be on your toes for the occasional harder rapid. The scenery is excellent through this section with deep pools and dense forest. Just downstream from the Bear Cr. bridge (the only one you'll pass under since the put-in) lies Baby Bear. Despite its name, Baby Bear should not be taken lightly. The main drop lies just downstream of a steep plunge along the left bank. The river then narrows and drops through the main drop. This drop has some very strange waves and currents which tend to flip unsuspecting boaters and push them into the right wall. There is only a short pool between this first drop and the final drop in the rapid. More waves and holes lie just around the corner and continue for another hundred yards.

Once you've passed Baby Bear there is a long stretch of Class 2 rapids before the river gathers itself again for Goldilocks. This rapid is hard to recognize from the river and can't be scouted from the road so be on your toes. Once the river goes away from the road, be on the lookout for a left turn with a steep dirt bank on the right. This is the entrance drop of Goldilocks. After this entrance the river splits around a shallow island with most of the current going to the left. At the bottom of the island the current sweeps hard to the right and splits around a large rock. Either side of the rock is o.k. but the cliff wall on the left is undercut and can present a hazard for swimmers.

There is a short section of quiet water before the last major rapid on this section, Porridge Bowl. Porridge Bowl is a fast flush through some waves and holes at the top and then a quick plunge into a big pool at the bottom. Try to stay to the right once you hit the pool or you will end up in a big eddy on the left which can be hard to get out of. Below here are several more fun rapids and some nice scenery before you see the road again and the Glen Avon bridge. The take-out is up the steep rocks on the right bank about a 1/4 mile upstream of the bridge.

Most boaters scout Baby Bear (5.5 miles from Glen Avon Bridge), Mama Bear and Papa Bear from the road on their way upriver. Mama Bear is located just upstream of a distinctive basalt gorge. Baby Bear and Papa Bear are difficult to scout from the river but Mama Bear can be scouted/portaged from the gravel bar on the right. Goldilocks and Porridge Bowl are difficult to scout. Be sure there isn't any wood in these rapids before committing. At high water, this section has some of the biggest holes on any river in the Portland area. Plenty of people get into trouble by underestimating the power of the river and their paddling abilities.

How to get there
The town of Molalla is about 18 miles southeast of Portland. From downtown Molalla take Hwy. 211 east. Bear right at the east end of town follow the signs to Feyrer Park. Go past the park, across the Molalla River and turn right on Dickey Prairie Road. Travel a little over 5 miles on Dickey Prairie Road and look for Glen Avon Bridge on your right. Continue past the bridge for another 1/4 to the small pullout by the river. Alternate Take-Out:
Many boaters choose to take out just below Baby Bear. There is a short trail from a small roadside pull-out about a 1/2 mile below Baby Bear. There is also good access at Baby Bear itself.

To reach the put-in go back to Glen Avon Bridge and turn left; crossing the river. Follow Molalla River Road 9 miles upstream to Turner Bridge which crosses the river. Continue a short distance up the road to a pullout on the right. Alternate Put-In:
Many boaters choose to put-in approximately 5 miles upstream of Turner Bridge where the road crosses the Table Rock Fork. Look for a trail from the campsite just before the bridge on the right.

There is currently an internet gauge located at Canby which is miles below this run. Currently I think a good minimum flow on the Canby gauge for this section is about 1500 cfs. If the water level is falling quickly you'll need more water and if it rising quickly the river will be higher than the gauge indicates.

More Info
Check out Jason's description of this run.

Photo Gallery

Gorge below Mama Bear Beautiful geology Papa Bear
Gorge below Mama Bear Beautiful Scenery Papa Bear

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