Information on White R., West Fork
Rating: I-II (III)
Location: Several put-ins and take-outs are possible. The river
follows Hwy. 71 between Winslow and West Fork. The uppermost
put-in is at the ball park in Winslow. Look for a gas station
with a gravel parking lot beside it. Park in the lot where
the wooden footbridge crosses the small creek. The next
public access point is the rest area on Hwy. 71 just north of
Brentwood. The next commonly used access is at a green steel
bridge, right beside a roadside cemetery, a few miles south of
West Fork. The usual lower take-out is at the park just
upstream of the Hwy. 170 bridge in West Fork. Park in the lot
on river left just upstream of the dam.
Topo Quad(s): Winslow, Brentwood, West Fork
Gradient: 15 fpm
Length: 12 mi.
Season: FALL, SPRING
Gauge: The White R. at Fayetteville should be 5 feet or higher
for a run from the green bridge to West Fork.
To gauge the river above that point, just inspect the river
from the road. At the wooden bridge in the ballpark at
Winslow, the rocks under the bridge should be just about
covered for a good run from that point.
Hazards: Occasional strainers, undercut at the second ledge
Description: The West Fork of the White is one of the most
accessible runs in the state, with a major highway following
almost the entire run. It comes up farily often, not
needing much rain to be runnable in its lower stretches.
It offers two class III rapids when it's high and a few nice
playspots. But the river is rarely run compared to other
rivers in the area. It's hard to guess why this is so,
but it sure makes for a pleasant trip down the river.
If the water is high, you can put in as high up as Winslow,
where the stream has continuous class II rapids and a very
narrow, twisting course. A straightforward class III ledge
is encountered just after putting in, and another class
III (IV on the left side?) ledge that pushes into an
undercut left bank is encountered a few miles down
under a red metal footbridge. Watch out for strainers
in this stretch - it's easy to get pushed into downed
trees. The rest stop, about 5 miles from Winslow,
is a better put-in if the level looks too low for Winslow.
In the next four miles, the creek picks up a lot of volume
until it becomes a river. Pools are longer, and rapids
in this stretch are generally in the class I and easy
II range with some tight corners and a few trees to dodge.
Just before the green bridge, additional water from Winn Cr.
pumps up the flow even more. This is a good put-in if the
water is low. Between the green bridge and West Fork there
are some fairly long pools, but a few ledgy class II drops
with some nice surfing opportunites make the trip worthwhile.
The bluffs on the right just above the dam offer some
beautiful scenery as well. Whatever you do, don't paddle over
the low head dam at West Fork! The hydraulic can kill, even
at moderate water levels. Take out upstream of the dam, or
walk around if you want to continue downstream. The West Fork
is suitable for beginning paddlers from the rest stop down,
and for paddlers who have a good deal of class II-III
experience from Winslow to the rest stop when the water is
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