Quartzville Creek

Quartzville Creek is a tributary of the Middle Santiam River. It is frequently scenic. One especially beautiful section is found east of Minniece Creek. This gorge was originally explored by people looking for a possible kayaking trip. They decided that it made an enjoyable canyoneering route, but that they would hate to paddle it. They dubbed the canyon "Pure Hate Gorge." Time will tell whether this name finds acceptance.

Quartzville Creek parallels forest service road 11 for most of its length. If you are coming from western Oregon take I-5 to Albany. Then take route 20 to Sweet Home. Turn left on Quartzville Road (forest service road 11) In about 31 miles the road crosses the creek on a bridge. Continue another half mile to where the road turns left away from Quartzville Creek to go around a tributary creek. The road crosses the tributary creek 0.7 miles west of the intersection of road 11 and road 1155. This tributary (Minniece Creek) provides a convenient egress from Quartzville Creek. Continue east another mile and a half to two miles to where prominent bluffs are on the left side of the road. This is the starting point.

If you are coming from the east, take highway 22 to forest service road 11. The intersection is 19 miles south of Detroit. Road 11 is signed as the Straight Creek road. The starting point for the trip is about 16 miles from the intersection of forest service road 11 with highway 22.The egress creek is 17.7 miles from the intersection.

From the road hike down hill to the creek. At first the creek is very ordinary. The hiking distance to the gorge will depend upon where exactly you started from. The gorge begins with a 15 foot drop which can be rappelled from a rock pinch on the right. In another 100 yards you will encounter another 15 foot drop into a pool followed by a 5 foot waterfall. These two drops can be combined into one rappel anchored from a log on the left. If you prefer to make two separate rappels, you can anchor the lower one from a small chock stone in a crack on the left. A 5 foot waterfall might seem like a very easy jump, but be advised that the water at the bottom is shallow.

Immediately below the 5 foot drop you will swim through a very beautiful narrows. More scrambles and swims lead to a log jam across the creek that has created a 15 foot drop. This can be downclimbed in a crack on the left or rappelled. There are good jumping opportunities. A large log sticks out over the water perpendicular to the log jam. It is just like a diving board and makes a nice 15 foot jump. More great scenery follows. Eventually the canyon widens, but the scenery is still excellent. A beautiful waterfall comes in on the left. Downstream there is an amazing series of overhangs with flat terraces beneath on which you can walk. It is very unusual indeed.

You will see a small stream coming in on the right side over low angle slabs. This is the exit route. Hike up the stream a short distance until it starts to get brushy and you can see the remains of an old refrigerator. Hike steeply uphill to the left (facing upstream), and you will reach the road very shortly. Allow 3 to 4 hours.

You should take a 150 foot rope, 20 feet of webbing, a wetsuit and helmet.

Maps: USGS Chimney Peak Quad. The Willamette National Forest Detroit Ranger District Map is very useful


The following photos were provided by Matt Moore of Cascade Canyoning.


More photos of Quartzville Creek can be seen at www.oregonkayaking.net/creeks/uu_qville/uu_qville.html