The 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.
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.
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