(3.5 miles above Hwy. 22 Bridge to Hwy. 22 Bridge)
French Creek is a small creek that enters the Detroit Reservoir just downstream of the town of Detroit. Many boaters have driven by it on their way to the Breitenbush River and the upper North Santiam River and seen the short gorge at the mouth of the river. French Creek is an interesting run for the hardcore creeker that is looking for something different in the area.
From the recommended put-in near the powerline crossing, French Creeks rips down nearly non-stop small, tight ledge drops. Though no drop is more than 5 ft., the continous nature of the creek in this section makes stopping very difficult; particularly if the water is high. There is a very tight pinch very near the beginning and then after a short stretch of boogie water, the creek turns to the left and drops over a 6' ledge. Below this ledge there are several more steep drops over the next 1/2 mile before the gradient decreases. With the exception of one fun drop, this middle section is technical Class 3 with a few wood issues. The rapids pick up again shortly after the bridge with a steep boulder rapid that should be run center to avoid the small sieve on the left. Below this are several very fun small ledges and slides which lead up to a short narrow gorge. A couple more drops below the gorge mark the end of the significant whitewater until very near Hwy. 22. If boaters continue past the recommended take-out there is a 10', narrow waterfall and short gorge immediately upstream of the Hwy. 22 bridge.
Although currently pretty clear of wood, this hasn't been the case in the past. Any wood in the steep, narrow upper stretch could be very dangerous. Be sure to scout this section before committing to any blind drops. The gorge and several of the rapids above it can be scouted from the road on the way to the put-in. Look for an obvious pull-out at the gorge.
How to get there
Take-out (GPS:45o32.927'N, 123o36.165'W)
French Cr. is located just west of the town of Detroit. Detroit is located along Hwy. 22 about 50 miles east of Salem. The take-out is approximately .75 miles from Hwy. 22.
To reach the put-in, continue upstream on the paved road along the river. There is relatively easy access where the power-lines cross the road about 3 miles above the take-out.
There is a gauge just downstream of the bridge about a mile upstream of the take-out. I don't know how that gauge correlates to recommended flows. The one time I've run French Cr. we had about 1500 cfs on the Breitenbush (Breitenbush above French Cr. nr Detroit) It is recommended that boaters judge adequete and safe flows while scouting the lower gorge and the steep, narrow section near the put-in.
Check out Jason's description of this run.