Hagen Gorge is on a small tributary to the Washougal River in southwestern Washington. About 3-4 miles long, this creek can be characterized by class IV boogie-water boofs and slides with various vertical class IV/V drops dispersed throughout. There is no gauge to the creek, so it’s all about proper guess-work. On our trip, the region had seen heavy rain for two days prior, and the moisture was only supposed to continue.
From the put-in, the run starts out with a mini-adventure, hiking in through what a few years ago was a clearcut. The trees have grown substantially since then, making navigation a little more difficult, particularly when you’re wearing a GoPro on your head. Nevertheless, once you make it to the creek, the fun begins.
Upon putting on the creek, the sun came out, and we immediately realized we had been duped: Hagen Gorge was low. In fact so low, the first few rapidsÂ felt as though we were all in an MMA fight-being bounced around between boulders, finding the best line through a boulder-jumbled mess of a rapid. Needless to say, we reached the first landmark of the trip, about 1/3 mile downstream from the put-in: a mini-logjam to be portaged on the left.
Below the portage, the creek starts to steepen, as drops became more vertical, and the first falls is reached: Haagendaaz Falls. With low water, we all had interesting lines, and a few of us went for laps.
Soon after Haagendaaz, you roll up to Euphoria Falls, my favorite rapid on the run. Euphoria falls is a two-parter. It features a bubbly lead in to a 50 ft slide, into a 15 foot falls. At this water level, we all felt the need for a mouth-piece, but we all had clean runs, and paddled downstream sunny-side up.
After a short period of downriver be-bopping, you reach the confluence with the NF Washougal and the next major rapid: Teakettle. Teakettle features a fun entry to a sloping ramp into a decent sized hole. Boof hard left at the bottom for the superman line!
Soon after Teakettle comes Crack in the Earth, the last major rapid on the run, in which the creek drops over a 20 foot falls, and quickly squeezes through a six foot wide crack in the Earth. The falls itself is fairly straight forward, but its a roll of the dice whether you’ll keep your head wet through the crack.
After Crack in the Earth, there is some fun, celebratory class III, quickly followed by the take-out. If you’re a class IV/V paddler with an adventuresome spirit looking for a new run, consider Hagen Gorge.
See you on the river,