I first heard about Wash Creek from Tim Gross. He gave a rave review so I didn't hesitate to begin the legwork to check out the creek. Of course, a lot has changed in the Wash Creek drainage since Tim was on the river. The big floods of '96 washed out some road sections along Wash Creek and its neighbor, Fish Creek. Rather than repair the roads, the Forest Service decided to remove all the roads in both the Wash Creek and Fish Creek drainages. This makes both creeks very difficult for kayakers to access the creek.
My first foray in to scout Wash Creek involved a 6.5 mile hike in from the bottom of creek. This allowed me to get a look at the last mile of the creek. Although the creek looked pretty in spots and was definitely big enough to boat, I didn't see anything outstanding and quickly put Wash Creek on the back burner and moved on to other potential runs. Finally, 5 years later I got back to Wash Creek and was able to hike the entire run.
River Description (Kayaking)
Below the falls the creek is still pretty small and currently has a bunch of wood. If you can brave the wood or are lucky to find a small amount of wood, you'll be rewarded with fairly continuous Class 3 rapids for the next 0.75 miles and the next old road bridge. This is where the action really begins and makes a better put-in than the upper bridge. Just downstream of the bridge the creek begins to drop through some great, steep boulder gardens with the occasional small ledge. The forest scenery in this section is exceptional. There are a couple short sections which might approach Class 5 at high water but for the most part, the rapids are good solid Class 3-4. After about a mile or so of these rapids, the creek flattens a little bit before getting to a narrow, congested section of the creek where the remains of a road bridge make the creek interesting. Once below this rapid the creek opens up again and continues through Class 3 rapids until it joins Fish Creek. From here it is another 4.5 miles of Class 3 rapids until the confluence with the Clackamas River.
How to get there
Put-in (GPS: 45o02.024'N, 122o12.540'W)
Alternate put-in (GPS: 45o02.320'N, 122o11.772'W)