OwSR No. 14: North Fork of the Smith River

North Fork of the Smith River

The Upper North Fork of the Smith River in Oregon | Photo: Zach Collier

Quick Facts

  • Managing Agency: Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (USFS)
  • Designated Stretch: Headwaters to California State Line
  • Designation Length: 13 miles (8.5 miles Wild and 4.5 miles Scenic)
  • Outstanding Remarkable Values: Fisheries, water quality, and scenic quality
  • Wild and Scenic River Designation: October 28, 1988
  • More Photos: North Fork of the Smith River Flickr Album

More Information

Celebrated by Dan Newman, Brodie Sullivan, Emily Little and Zach Collier on April 22, 2017 by paddling from the end of Road 290 to Major Moore's.


Kayaking on the North Fork of the Smith RiverZach Collier: I did this run in the early 2000s with my kayaking friends in college and it was a full on adventure. We accidentally put-in on a side creek before finally finding the North Fork of the Smith. It was a long, cold day.

In April 2017 I went back with a few friends to savor this beautiful stretch river. It's about a mile hike in and the last mile requires bushwhacking through dense forest. The whitewater is good and there are many log and log jam portages which make paddling the Upper North Fork a lot of work. The reward is a very wild, beautiful, and unspoiled place that very few people have been to.

The geology and forest is very different from the more commonly paddled section of this river downstream. Instead of the sparse forest and brownish peridotite of the Lower North Fork of the Smith River in California this section flows through the complicated Dothan Formation. This formation allows dense forest to grow and there is a huge variety of interesting rocks.

Learn about Oregon Wild and Scenic River No. 15: The Illinois River>>


Northwest Rafting Company Exploratory Division