Information on Cossatot R.


Cossatot R.

	Rating: II-IV
	TDCR: 5544
	Location:  Polk and Howard Co.;
		S1: Put in at the Hwy. 246 bridge east of Hwy 71.  Take out
			is reached by taking Weyerhauser Rd. 52200 south
			from Hwy. 246 just east of the put-in.  Then take
			52000 west to reach the river.
		S2: Take out at Ed Banks bridge on Weyerhauser Rd 52600 
			which runs north from Hwy. 278 (used to be Hwy. 4)
			and connects with 52200 coming south from Hwy. 246.
		S3: Take out at the low water bridge downstream from the
			Hwy. 278 bridge.
		Area Map
	Topo Quad(s): Eagle Mountain, Baker Springs
	Gradient: 15 to 25 fpm  (the Falls area is a major exception)
	Length: S1: 3 mi
		S2: 1.5 mi
		S3: 4.5 mi
	Season: RAIN
	Gauge: The minimum level on the USGS gauge at Vandervoort is 
		around 3.2 feet.  The Falls can be run down to 3.0 or so, but 
		the rest of the river starts getting really bony below 3.5.  The 
		river is much pushier and the Falls starts to go into the solid 
		class IV+ range somewhere above 5.0 feet.  The river has been run
		by crazed adrenaline junkies up to over 10 feet, but the Falls
		is very scary for even the best of boaters at anything over 7 feet!
		LINK TO USGS GAUGE
	Hazards: Big, continuous drops in the Falls area, and very heavy water
		in S2 and S3 when levels are high.
	Description: The Cossatot is probably the premier whitewater run in 
		Arkansas.  S1 consists of mostly class II rapids and is 
		suitable for boaters with a little experience on whitewater.
		However, if you don't have much experience, don't venture
		below S1!  The action picks up considerably in S2 with rapids
		like ZigZag and The Esses.  ZigZag is an easy class III
		drop, and enders are possible in the hole below if the water 
		is high.  The Esses is a long, complex class III rapid, and 
		the penalty for a mistake in this rapid could be a long and 
		bruising swim!  To avoid the big stuff, you can start center-left
		and work your way to the right toward several eddies along the
		right bank.  There are a couple of solid holes in the middle of
		the run to pick your way past.  A few more good rapids are 
		encountered before you come to the Sandbar bridge where
		the final section of the river begins.  Portage the bridge on
		the left - don't get near the middle of the bridge as it is
		extremely hazardous.  Only a few hundred yards below the Sandbar
		bridge, the Cossatot Falls section begins.  This is a series of 
		back-to-back class III-IV rapids that drops around 40 feet in 1/8 
		of a mile.  The first of these is a big class II+ drop followed by
		a pool at most levels.  The next drop, Eye Opener, presents the
		paddler with a horizon line.  At lower levels, the hole below this
		three foot ledge is not too bad, but at levels of over 5.0 feet,
		it can be a keeper!  Scout if there is any doubt.  Below this 
		the river is pushed to the left into B.M.F. a tricky class 
		III drop.  This one is generally run angling to the left and
		dodging the hidden rock in the middle.  Be sure to catch an
		eddy below B.M.F. because the Washing Machine is just below.
		The Machine is a class IV drop at almost any level.  At levels
		below 4.5 feet, it must be approached from the right side.
		Running almost perpendicular to the streambed, enter the drop,
		turn right and hit the middle of the slot to finish.  It's
		easy to make the turn too tight and end up on the right
		where the Cannonball Rock lurks at low water levels and 
		where the Washing Machine Hole will take you to the cleaners
		at medium flows.  At high water, you can approach from the
		center or even the left and run straight over the top of
		the drop.  If you have trouble in the Machine, your troubles
		will be compounded by Whiplash, a long class III+ drop right
		below the Machine.  At high water levels, it's a great idea
		to set some rope support on the left bank at strategic
		locations between B.M.F. and Whiplash, since an unassisted
		swimmer will get flushed through all of these - a bruising
		ride.  Needless to say, having a reliable roll is also an
		excellent idea.  The Falls ends with Shoulderbone, a class II 
		drop with a pretty good play hole at lower levels.  At certain 
		flows even bigger boats can get enders in the hole here.  
		Several good rapids are encountered below the Falls, but if 
		you had a clean run in the Falls only two will give you any 
		trouble.  The first is Deer Camp Rapids, an easy looking 
		class III that can pin unwary boaters.  The other is Devil's 
		Hollow Falls.  This ugly sheer fall has a nasty landing on 
		jagged rocks that have taken skin off of more than a few 
		boaters.  Pins and entrapments are a real danger in this 
		rapid, and some close calls have happened here.  Don't run
		the ledge unless you know exactly what you're doing.
		You can walk or sneak around Devil's Hollow Falls on the 
		far left.  At lower levels, it's a long, relatively flat,
		paddle to the takeout from Devil's Hollow.  If the river
		is below 3.5 feet, many boater will run Cossatot Falls
		and then carry back up the bank rather than continuing
		down to the Hwy. 278 bridge.  It's about an equal effort
		either way though - the trek back up the Falls is not for
		the meek!  The Cossatot is a great whitewater river, but
		be sure you're up to the challenge before you try to boat
		down the Falls.  A lot of folks, including this author, have
		been beaten up by this infamous stretch of river.  Only boaters
		with solid self rescue skills and experience on pushy class
		IV water should attempt the Falls.

See the Photo Gallery for photos.

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