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The Top 5 Rivers You Must Experience This August

August 7, 2015

When Oregon Field Guide profiled nature author Tim Palmer in 2014, they called him the closest thing Oregon had to a river evangelist.

Palmer's 40 years of photography and study of rivers has resulted in 22 books and, among other accolades, a lifetime achievement award from the nonprofit American Rivers. He was the first recipient of the award. 

Last year, Palmer did another first. He published an unprecedented look into the world of Oregon rivers. "Field Guide to Oregon Rivers" profiles 120 waterways across Oregon. It's an equal mix of watershed study and in-depth adventure map. It's also a testament to his love for Oregon rivers.

Palmer dug through his guide to share his five picks for great river adventures to do this August.

Two asides: First, take caution when going on any adventure outdoors. Make sure you're prepared for the event you're undertaking. And second, when you do go out into the wild — pick up after yourself. Locals have complained to our reporters about visitors leaving trash behind, by trash we’re talking about things like used toilet paper and condoms.

Yeah. Don’t be that person, ever.

 

Hike Sweet Creek

"If I had to pick the most beautiful stream front trail in Oregon, [Sweet Creek] is it," said Palmer.

Palmer sold it to us in just nine words: "Two miles, 15 waterfalls, in an old growth forest."

He added there are never that many people on the trail. "We could change that, I suppose," he laughed.

Directions to Sweet Creek Trail

Canoe The Willamette

"People with rudimentary skills — but some skills — will love paddling the Willamette River, which can be done any month of the year. Only 12 Oregon rivers have adequate summer through autumn flows, and some of them have serious whitewater," said Palmer.

He gave some tips on where to put in for the trip too. 

“Any reach above Newberg is fine. Below there is flat, windy, and busy with motorboats.”

Feeling more adventurous? Palmer recommended the 40-mile stretch between Eugene and Corvallis.

"It's less developed and swifter," he said.

Further details are available online with the Willamette River Recreation Guide.

Bike Siuslaw River

River adventures don't always have to be on the water, either.

"Oregon has excellent riverfront biking, for road and for mountain bikes," said Palmer.

He recommended the Siuslaw lower river route because it "has a great gravel road for 10 miles or so along the whole river." You can take it for miles with little traffic.

Map To Bike Route.

Raft Harpham Flat

"If you can handle whitewater, and some powerful rapids," Palmer suggests the 10-mile run on the Deschutes River from Harpham Flat to Sandy Beach.

"Make sure you takeout (at Sandy Beach) because Sherar Falls is downstream," he said. "But I'd avoid the crowds of weekends — this is a very popular place."

If you're interested, you'll need to get a boater pass from the Bureau of Land Management, which is needed for any boating on the Deschutes.

Big rapids and a potential waterfall mishap not your thing? For a more laid back rafting experience, Palmer recommended the middle Rogue River.

"It's road accessible and not difficult in a raft, though there are lively rapids."

Start at the Hog Creek ramp, downstream from Grants Pass and go to Grave Creek. It's 13 miles.

Harpham Flat to Sandy Beach

Boater pass for the Deschutes River

Rogue River Float Guide

Backpack The Upper North Umpqua

In his book "Field Guide To Oregon Rivers," Palmer recommends the upper trail section along the upper North Umpqua River for the backpackers out there — a stretch of 13 miles from Umpqua Hot Springs to White Mule Trailhead. 

"It's drop dead beautiful and follows the river closely."

It's a difficult but rewarding hike.

"With impressive old-growth, gushing crystalline springs, splendid wildness far from roads, and constant river views, this is the best river trail in Oregon," Palmer writes.

What Palmer might have left out: This part of the trail is known as, "The Dread and Terror Segment."

It was named by forest rangers who imagined how hard it would be to fight forest fires in this area. Or maybe it's the Sasquatch's feeding grounds. Who knows!

Go to the Umpqua Hot Springs for an easy entrance

More information about the Dread and Terror Segment

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