Cheakamus River - Dam Run

What It's Like
A fun, roadside class III with a short portage around a class V rapid. Runnable year round.
Class
III
Scouting / Portaging
Easy
Time
1-2 hours
When to Go
Spring for highest flows. All year depending on your low water tolerance.
Gauge
42.5cms↓ (Aug 14 14:50)
The often overlooked "Dam Run" on the Cheakamus starts immediately below Daisy Lake Dam and ends next to the highway before the river enters the seldom-run Cheakamus Canyon. This is a fun class III run with a manky class V called Alpine Drop near the only bridge over the run.

To get to the put-in, drive north on Highway 99 towards Whistler. Shortly after the Rubble Creek Trailhead turnoff and immediately before the bridge over the Cheak, park in a small pull-out. Walk through the woods towards the river here. You can either put-in immediately or walk up the bank towards the dam to run the put-in rapid (class IV at most flows).

The river is mostly fun class III wave trains, a few a little steeper and longer than the rest. Around Rubble Creek, the riverbed is peppered with vertical tree stumps -- exercise caution around these with newer paddlers. They're easy to avoid, but could be very dangerous. Fun fact: a debris flow dammed the Cheakamus causing it to flood an existing forest. When the river cut through, it formed a new channel through said forest, leaving those stumps in the riverbed.

Shortly after one of the steeper rapids you'll find Alpine Drop. The horizon line is obvious, as is the bridge visible downstream. Some paddlers do a long portage on river right, but it's much easier to eddy-hop down the left bank and portage at river level. Be careful not to miss the eddies, but at least up to 100cms, this route is quite straightforward.

Greg Lee on Alpine Drop at low water.


After Alpine Drop, there's still a good bit of whitewater left. As you approach an obvious pull-out along the highway, the takeout is close. Paddle past the pull-out but eddy out immediately left at the bottom of this wavetrain. There's a nice beach and trail up to the pull-out from there. You can go a few rapids further (they are some of the best rapids) but it's a pain to get back up to the road from there.