Last week I wrote about the Ogden River, a short river that flows only a few miles but packs tons of paddling opportunity into it’s short length. This week I’ll introduce you to the Weber River which offers very similar paddling as the Ogden, but in a much longer river.
The Weber River starts way up in the mountains and flows into the Echo Reservoir. This upper section, between the headwaters and Echo, is rarely paddled due to wood hazards and lower flow. I was amongst a group that did a portion of this upper section during flood stage and it was truly adventure boating. Fast water with strainers around every corner makes for an exciting trip. We ended up with a boat pinned and one of our group walking out, and even with all that, we considered ourselves lucky. With all that being said, we’ll concentrate on the lower section, below the Echo Reservoir.
Echo to Hentag- Most people skip the section from the Echo Reservoir down to the put in for the Henefer to Taggart run. This is mostly due to the lack of public access and the mellow class 2 nature of this section. That being said, there is one steep drop in that section that catches the unwary off guard. Several Rafting companies use this upper section to launch from their own private access points, but there is one fisherman’s access that can be used if you are intent on paddling this section.
Henefer to Taggart- Called ‘Hentag’ for short, this run is the most paddled/floated/tubed section of river in Utah. The Hentag put in is located at Exit 112 off of Hwy 84. The large parking area sometimes gets filled to capacity with a hundred or so vehicles in the summer. For tubers, its party central. Right at the put in, there is a nice little wave to catch and practice your stern squirts on.
Look up as you meander for the first half mile and you’ll see the red rock of the canyon starting to close in a little bit. This marks the beginning of the upper rock garden, the most challenging section of Hentag. Although rated a class 3 section, there are quite a few eddylines and rocks that can give beginners some trouble.
After the upper rock garden, the river jinks left and gives you a few holes and rocks to dodge prior to you reaching the Croyden Bridge. This is where people who are new to boating normally will put in.
Its important to note that when the water level is around 1000cfs, the bridge is too low to pass under, and you’ll need to portage around it, like the people above are doing. Hentag continues a few miles with a few sections creating small play waves and a lower rock garden that makes a good slalom course.
Devil’s slide, a really cool natural rock formation, is on river left. Look for it right after you pass back under hwy 84. You can see the bottom of the Devil’s Slide in the picture above.
Croyden Wave is the next memorable feature and is a great play wave a certain levels. We’ll sometimes spend an hour or so surfing here and when its in, its the highlight of the run.
Soon after you finish surfing, you’ll come to a section that gives some beginners nightmares. Hwy 84 converges with the river and runs above it on an elevated bridge.
This puts numerous bridge piling in the middle of the river, creating a huge danger of wrapping or pining boats on them. Combine that with the fact that this section is chock full of concrete and rebar, their worries are well founded. The normal line under and through the bridge is to paddle hard to avoid the first set of pilings and stay with the main flow which continues river right. The picture above is looking upstream, at a ducky wrapped on the first piling one encounters.
Taggart falls is the next big feature and is about 400 yards above the take out. Depending on the flow, the normal line is to stay close to the cliff wall on river left to avoid a large hole that is almost river wide. At higher flows, the hole becomes retentive and gives unsuspecting rafters and tubers a chunder to remember. The wood in the picture has since been removed. Many a boater has swam from this hole to the takeout that immediately follows on river right.
Round Valley- The Round Valley run is a step down from Hentag in difficulty and is popular with new rafters and boaters. The take out for Hentag, is the put in for Round Valley and the run ends near the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Morgan. Its a long float, with two man-made diversion dam drops that seem to get steeper each year.
Above is a picture of the first drop, which is much smaller than the second drop that comes up next in about two miles. There are a few small waves that are river wide and if you see them coming, you can get everyone in your group surfing them at once, party wave!
The end of Round Valley is normally above the drop in the photo above, on river right. There is a short hike to the parking area near the Fairgrounds, unless you run this drop and then take out at the very next bridge. This drop is runnable either on far river left or at the tongue that is near river right. Its a bit retentive in the middle and has handed out some good beat downs. There are two other drops like this downstream in Morgan, but wood issues make those hit and miss.
The next runnable section is about 15 miles downstream from the takeout for Round Valley at Peterson.
Peterson to the Eggs- I paddled this section with a friend who needed to document some things for the State, and I don’t know of anyone else who’s run it. The put in is at the Peterson Exit of Hwy 84. Look for the river and just find a place to jump in. The nature of the run is twisty, low water relaxation. Watch for fences across the river and a few little drops like pictured in the photo above.
Right before the takeout is the most exciting drop of the run. Look for the rail road trestle and take the left channel for the cleanest line. The takeout is at the rest area off Hwy 84, right at the beginning of the canyon that creates the Scrambled Eggs Bend run.
Scrambled Eggs- Named after an event where a large truck, carrying eggs, failed to negotiate the bends inside the canyon and ended up in the river, spilling its load (eggs) all over. This is the most difficult section of the Weber River, and one of my favorite runs.
To get to the put in, head east on Hwy 84 from mouth of the canyon and take the exit for the Rest Area. As you enter the Rest Area parking lot, take a hard right and follow the backwater from the dam to the fisherman’s access. There is a short warm up section prior to entering the bend.
This picture is the view from the top of the bend, where things start to get fun. Pick your way down and avoid a few pinny rocks that are in just the right spot to get in your way. Toward the end of this straight section, there is a rock in the middle that forces you right, just watch for it and make the move that becomes obvious when you see it.
Entering the bottom of the straightaway.
Continuing around the bend.
After the straightaway and the left turn, there is some read and run drops that lead into the ‘three drops’. These are the crux of the run and feed one into the other. The normal line is to run each of the drops on the right. Above is a pic of the first drop.
There’s a little boof rock on the third drop. If you hit it good, its a great way to end a clean line through the drops. From the three drops down to the power station dam, there is a moderately consistent read and run rock garden with a few nice little drops.
Last winter the gates at the power plant were removed and rebuilt. The new setup makes it runnable through the far right gate, when its open. The far left is quite shallow and feeds into the play wave shown above. The middle gate is shallow but runnable with enough water.
From the power dam down to the take out are some good holes and two drops that are always at a bit higher flow than the section above the dam. This is due to the water from the power plant diversion being put back in the river just below the dam. The takeout is on river left just after the old condemned bridge and immediately above a low head dam. Watch for the makeshift boat ramp on the left. I’ve run the dam at around 700 cfs and it was a hard flat landing. I wouldn’t suggest running it any lower. The take out for the Eggs is the start of 89 to Riverdale Wave.
Hwy 89 to Riverdale Wave- Prior to the high water from last spring, this was a good beginner run with very little consequence. The high water created numerous strainers and log jams that would make it hard for a beginner to navigate and dangerous to swim through.
With that in mind, it is still a fun run with numerous drops along the way to the take out at the Riverdale Wave, link the one pictured above. Read and run your way down to the Uinta Bridge.
High water created a great boof just left of center as show above in the picture. From the Uinta Bridge, its about four miles to whats called ‘slide one’. Look for the high power line wires that cross the river.
Run slide two on the right side to avoid wood that normally gathers on the left side and look for ‘slide two’ about 100 yards downstream from the end of slide one.
Slide two is a steeper and bumpier drop that gives a good horizon line prior to committing to what line you’re going to take. I normally go off the right side, about 1/4 the width of the river from the right river bank. At lower levels, there is potential for pining and at high water a large hole forms in the middle of the drop that is quite nasty. From here down to the Riverdale Wave there is nothing of significance.
The take out is on river left just below Riverdale Wave, which was once an epic high water play spot that people traveled from other states to come surf. Last years high water damaged the concrete structure that creates the wave and made the wave almost disappear. Hopefully, the City of Riverdale will help rebuild this feature soon before spring run off.
Riverdale Wave to Ogden Play Park- For a class 2 float, RW- OPP is hard to beat. Wintertime SUP trips down this section are fun when the flows are up just enough to limit the amount of scraping.
Here’s a pic of one of the numerous bridges that cross the Weber River along this stretch. Yup, that’s snow and yup, we’re having fun!
This section is about halfway down the run. Lots of wood down, but still passable on river right.
And this is the Ogden Play Park, where the three features were created to give kayakers a place to surf. You can end at OPP or you can continue down a few miles of flat water to the diversion dam at 17th street. If you do continue on, be wary of the ‘car drop’ which is a manky drop with car parts in it, and watch out for wood. The dam at 17th street should be approached with caution, so take out on river right well above it.
Hopefully this visual tour of the Weber River will motivate you to come on out and try kayaking or canoeing. With the Ogden (see last weeks article) and the Weber Rivers, we’re super lucky to live where we do. If you’re interested in learning how to boat, contact the Utah Whitewater Club at www.utahwhitewaterclub.org and we’ll help you learn all you need to know and if you let us, we’ll drag you around Utah, Idaho and Wyoming on our club trips this year. Check our calendar for more details on this year’s trips.
The UWC will also be holding a Wave Pool night at the Layton Surf and Swim this Sat, the 25th of Feb, from 7-10pm. Check with the Weber State Outdoor Program for gear rentals.
See you on the river!