Santiam River in Oregon
Lower South Santiam River
This section of the river is not classified as white water, but with riffles, sharp turns, and plenty of strainers (usually in the curves) to dodge, it wasn't exactly what I'd call "quiet". We are new to kayaking, so it was a challenging trip for us. Paddlers with more experience would probably find it easy.
We started in Lebanon and went to Crabtree (about 10 miles). The next day we started in Crabtree, with friends, and paddled to Jefferson.
From Lebanon to where the North Santiam flows into the river, the water was low, but still swift at times. Most riffles were shallow enough to drag bottom, but swift enough to keep you moving. Small rapids in curves were difficult for us inexperienced paddlers to steer through, and several times someone would get hung up on low hanging tree limbs, dumping the boats & riding out the small rapids.
Once past the entrance of the North Santiam, water volume went up, and it was much easier to manuever down the river - a wider, deeper and straighter river. There was more river traffic as we got down toward Jefferson in the form of canoes, swimmers and tubes. We passed under the bridge at Jefferson, and got out at the boat ramp located on the right/east bank. As it was late summer, there was a large shelf of exposed rock near the ramp on which to beach the kayaks.
Additional note: I probably won't paddle the upper section again. Too shallow (at least in late summer) & tricky for beginners. The section below the entrance of the N. Santiam is nice.
Gill's Landing - campground, bathrooms, park, trails, boat ramp and parking.
Crabtree - no facilities or ramp. You must portage in to the river. There is a fee with Linn County to access this area.
The city of Jefferson has a public boat ramp.
There is a fee charged by Linn County to use the Crabtree/Sanderson Bridge access. It is gated, and the only public parking is about a half mile away on hwy 226. The fee gives you access to private parking beyond the gate.
From I-5 head east into Lebanon on Hwy 20 or 34. Head south on Main St. Turn east on Grant Street and stop at Gill's Landing just before crossing the bridge.
Books: "Soggy Sneakers" and "Paddling in Oregon" may have some information.
- Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)