Guidebook Title

Wash Creek Title
Upper Bridge to Fish Creek

Wash Creek Info BoxI 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)
Wash Creek is pretty small at the bridge over the put-in but flows over tantilizing bedrock. Be sure to check downstream before you commit to the run as just downstream of the put-in lurks a tough 35-foot falls. The falls drops 10 feet in the first step into a small pool which then plunges 25 feet into a narrow slot. Needless to say, it would be very bad to get blown into the drop by mistake.

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.

Currently (2004), there is a lot of wood throughout Wash Creek. It is particularly abundant on the upper section below the waterfall but there are also some big trees in the middle section. Some of this may be passable depending on the water level or it could create a bunch of portages. Watch out for the remains of the road bridge about 2 miles downstream of the upper put-in.

How to get there
Take-out (GPS: 45o09.449'N, 122o09.096'W)
The take-out is at the confluence of Fish Creek and the Clackamas River at the Fish Creek day use area. The day use area is about 15.5 miles east of Estacada on Hwy. 224.

Put-in (GPS: 45o02.024'N, 122o12.540'W)
Turn onto Memaloose Rd. about 10 miles east of Estacada from Hwy. 224. Turn left on FS 4550 after about 11 miles. Continue on FS 4550 until it joins FS 45. Turn left and continue on FS 45 until it ends. From here it is about a 3.5 mile hike down the road to the river.

Alternate put-in (GPS: 45o02.320'N, 122o11.772'W)
If you want to avoid the tough waterfall and small upper section of the creek, continue hiking down the old road to the next bridge where the good stuff begins. There is also the possibility of bushwacking to the river from a spur road a mile from the junction of FS 45 and FS 4550.

Fish Creek at Three Lynx
Flow in Wash Creek is about 1/2 the flow at the Fish Creek gauge.

Photo Gallery

Wash Creek Falls Wood on Wash Creek
Wash Creek Falls Wood on Wash Creek