To do so solo, a boater would have to have multi-craft skills, i.e. be equally as proficient in a touring kakayk or canoe and a whitewater kayak. That’s why undertaking this adventure as a relay team and doing it over three days makes sense. Here’s what to expect on a three-day outing.
This first stretch, except for a couple of mandatory portages, is ideally suited for canoeists and touring kayakers. That means lazy water for almost all of the 42.9 miles and that equals a long day and a sore rear, back and arms.
The first miles pass through classic logged over terrain. It’s when you pass by the Bull Run Campground about six miles into the trip that you start to pay attention. The scenery gets better and you know that a couple of miles ahead is the mandatory portage of Pringle Falls. Yes, the falls have been run by expert whitewater kayakers but….
About four miles later paddlers come to the Tethrow Logjam. Again a portage is mandatory.
After this the river winds through La Pine Sate Park, past the Deschutes Land Trust’s Thomas Preserve, under Harper’s Bridge by the Crosswater golf course and finally the Sunriver Marina.
Weary and thirsty, spend the evening reviving at Sunriver Lodge. Have a cocktail at the Owl’s Nest, dinner in the dining room, maybe a massage and then plan for day two.
This is the day for the expert whitewater paddler(s) on your team to take over because this 13-mile section is all about some serious whitewater. Whitewater that begins just a bit downstream of Sunriver with Class V+ Benham Falls.
Portage river left when you see the warning signs. Do not attempt.
The portage is difficult and puts you onto Class III water and then flatwater until you come to Class IV Dillon Falls.
After a bit more flatwater you come to the popular Class III Big Eddy run. The only hazard here might be fighting for water space with the commercial raft trips.
Not far beyond Big Eddy, watch for the warning signs for Lava Island Falls and pull out river left. Have your support team meet you there and head for GoodLife, 10 Barrel, Brother Jon’s or the Broken Top Bottle Shop to refresh and regroup. Then rest up in the comfort of your own home.
This is the short (approximately 6 miles) section where you can use both team members.
The run starts with some serious Class IV whitewater at Lava Island Falls and beyond, including a dangerous logjam and mandatory portage. It’s whitewater almost all the way until the Bill Healy bridge where the whitewater paddler(s) can hand off to the canoeist or touring kayaker for the final stretch (with the mandatory Colorado Street bridge portage) into town and Drake Park and Mirror Pond.
Lay on the grass, walk over to Pizza Mondo for a slice, head to the Deschutes Public House to boast of your team’s achievements over a beer and call it an adventure well planned and executed.
* Know how to paddle. This is a trip for those with skills.
* Have a copy of the “Deschutes Paddle Trail River Guide” in your possession.
* Carry a cell phone and emergency gear