Top 5 West Coast Class V Kayaking Rivers

Here's another fun one from Lane. We'll have some fun fotos of the runs soon so check back in a couple days. Thanks and enjoy

"Top 5 West Coast Class V Rivers - According to Lane"

First off, let me say that this list of rivers is totally my personal opinion and is very debatable. Also, by West Coast I am referring to Cali, Oregon, Washington, and BC. Sorry Idaho and MT – you guys didn’t make the cut.

So in no particular order here goes:

1.) Little White Salmon, Columbia Gorge

The L-Dub, as many refer to it, is 3 miles of some of the most quality whitewater in North America. What really makes this river great beyond the rapids is that it an aquifer makes it runnable an average of 8 months a year. Usually peaking in January or February, the level gradually drops until the Fall. The Little White is the signature run of the NorthWest and may qualify as my favorite run in the US after considering all factors.

After a half mile of class II, the river enters a steep boulder strewn section known as Gettin’ Busy. This section may be the most technical on the river but the biggest holes and waterfalls lay downstream. After Gettin’ Busy the river changes character and goes into bedrock ledges and waterfalls. Towards the end of the run the river climaxes at Sprit Falls. This 32 footer has produced quite a few swims and even more injuries. After Spirit, Master Blaster is the last serious rapid on the run and then there is a quarter mile paddle out.

2.) Ashlu/Tatlow, SW British Columbia

The unique beauty of this watershed alone is worthy enough to make this area a Provincial Park. Add to that some of the best whitewater in the world and you have the tenderloin run in SW BC. Unfortunately, it has become the site of a micro-hydro project. In the last year this area has undergone drastic changes that have forever changed this place. What used to be a quiet, undeveloped river and road system has now become a bustling construction project. Dump trucks speeding up and down the newly built road, powerlines running up and down the creek, and a security check point have brought an entirely new feel to this area.

Nevertheless, this watershed provides four separate sections of class V within a few mile radius of the 50/50 bridge: Tatlow Creek, the Mine run, Box Canyon, and the Lower Mile. All different and quality in there own respects. This watershed is a must for any paddler visiting British Columbia.

3.) Middle Fork of the Kings, Kings Canyons National Park

In Kings Canyon National Park flows one of the greatest multi-day kayak trips in the world. Five days of non-stop class V is what ensues after a grueling 13 mile hike up and over a 12,000 foot pass. The river character changes with the elevation. At the top are rapids that are a little manky. The lower in elevation you go the cleaner the rapids become. This is pretty reflective of California in general; high elevation mank and low elevation boulder gardens. The Middle Kings is probably one of the only places in the world where you can paddle steep class V for five days straight.

4.) Big Kimshew, Feather Drainage, CA

Although the Feather River drainage has a few world class sections of whitewater, Big Kimshew stands out by itself. This 4 mile section of whitewater rivals any run for being the best one day run in the world. Usually starting to run in April and May, this river is usually at the beginning of the Cali season.

In its gorge, it contains a couple 40 footers, multiple 20 footers, a 60 foot cascade and quite a few slides; all of which are runnable. The river winds through a beautiful bedrock zone up until it flows into the West Fork of the Feather. At the take-out bridge is a beautiful 15 foot waterfall.

5.) Stikine, Northwest BC

One-hundred kilometers from the Yukon border, where the bears outnumber humans, is one of the most savage whitewater canyons in the world. Put some of the biggest whitewater in the world in a box canyon in the middle of the nowhere and you have the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. This river ranks among the top ultra-classic runs in the world.

The immensity of the whitewater makes you feel like a foam boater. One rapid in particular, V-Drive, has a 25 foot curling wave that looks like Mavericks, no exaggeration. Since the first decent in 1981 there have only been about 21 successful descents as of September 2007. If you go up there for the right reasons, the Stikine will reward you with a positively life-changing and unforgettable experience.

6.) Upper Cherry Creek, North of Yosemite National Park

The closest thing to paddling on the moon is found on the north side of Yosemite National Park. The smooth rolling granite of the Sierra Nevada provides a perfect riverbed for big clean waterfalls and slides. Multiple 40 foot waterfalls and slides make sections of this river drop 400+ feet per mile.

Traditionally Upper Cherry takes one day to hike into and two to paddle out. Recently it has been done in as little as one day. The signature gorge on the run is Cherry Bomb. Cherry Bomb gorge has been called the spiritual epicenter of creek boating. It is the ultimate in commitment as the walls are vertical and the only way out is down.

Thanks Lane. Hope you enjoied that one, I did.