This past week has been one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences I have had so far. I had the chance to paddle Upper Cherry Creek; which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and some of the best kayaking I have ever experienced.

The epic started on Monday morning the 19th of July at five in the morning. I awoke and wasted no time by sorting out the supplies I would need for the next three days. I packed my camping gear, and food into dry bags that I stuffed into the back of my boa.  I wore most of my kayaking gear for the hike in. I then went about rigging up my boat with a backpack system (I used a pyranha back pack system which worked great), which wraps around the boat and provides shoulder straps and a hiking belt for stability and comfort. This was my first time hiking long distances for kayaking and I was anxious about the long hike in. The hike was truly exhausting, but all and all I feel that it added to the experience of Upper Cherry. I was hiking in with a group of eight paddlers. Darin Mcquoid, Daniel Brasuell, Seth Stoner, Dustin Stoner, Orion Meredith, Chris Shehab, and Seth Dow. We reached the put-in late in the afternoon and took a rest. Finally I took a few stroked and got a chance to look up and take in the magnitude of rock and beauty surrounding me. There were sheer granite walls rising above the river, which fell down in one smooth unbroken surface all the way to the creek. We paddled our first drop as the sun fell low and stopped for camp shortly below.

I fell asleep on a worn-smooth granite slab with the close murmur of the river, the occasional mosquito, and a full sky of bright stars above.

The next day was truly amazing. So many rapids and drops it is all a blur. The first section of the river was a mile or so of really fun low angle slides. We all did paddle twirls and spins all the way down the slides. Then the river picked up with larger drops and slides through the first gorge.

the typical scene

The final rapid on the first gorge was a good taste of what was below

final rapid in the first gorge

exiting the first gorge

After countless more drops we arrived at the gates of Cherry Bomb gorge. Cherry Bomb gorge is very committing section with huge granite walls rising vertically out of the river making every drop mandatory to run. The drops stacked up one after another in the gorge and soon we reached Cherry Bomb falls. Cherry Bomb falls has been one of the most iconic drops in my mind ever since I have started kayaking. After seeing it in so many magazines, photos, and movies over the years it was one of the drops I have always dreamed of running. To finally paddle over the lip and experience it for my self was an incredible feeling.

Cherry Bomb falls

The rest of Cherry bomb gorge came really fast with some pretty big drops and holes you have to rally down with no scouting due to no eddies.

Exiting out of Cherry Bomb gorge we arrived at the Teacups. The Teacups section is the single best section of river I think I have ever paddled. It has a long slide at the beginning, which leads into eight perfect waterfalls. It was so fun I had to walk up and run it again. I took headcam footage of the whole teacups so you can see it for yourself.

Teacups slide

The perfect Teacup waterfalls


After the Teacups we arrived at California Groove Tube and the Perfect Twenty.

California Grove Tube

the Perfect 20'

Then we arrived at Double Pothole.

Double Pothole

After Double Pothole we called it a day and found another beautiful campsite right below the drop. After dinner I wanted to paddle some more and ran Double Pothole two more times.

third lap on Double Pothole

After another night under the stars we woke up to Waterfall Alley and some large stouts. Seth, Darin, and I ran the two large falls Kiwi in a Pocket and Dead Bear. After watching Darin run Kiwi in a Pocket I had a near perfect line and was pretty fired up at the bottom. Seth (seventeen) nailed his line too and it was cool to see him boof off the following falls with a huge smile stoked as well. The next drop was Dead Bear, which is a pretty intimidating seal-launch directly into a forty-foot falls. I went and took a big hit at the bottom after catching a flake on the way down and going over the handlebars. I was OK but had the wind knocked out of me and a pretty sore shoulder the next few days.

epic morning Dead Bear

With Waterfall Alley complete we had most of the significant drops behind us and only two more gorges to go. After paddling more amazing whitewater and countless drops in Redrock gorge and the final gorge we reached the lake and the paddle out.

final gorge

We reached the takeout midday and I was exhausted and content. It was an amazing three days in the most beautiful place I have ever been. I cannot wait until I can go back next year. Until then I am going to do a lot more creeking because I am now hooked.

I will put up a full Cherry Creek/Fordyce Creek video in the next week or so once I collect all of the footage. Until then enjoy the pictures and the little bit of headcam. Also huge thanks to Darin Mcquoid for all of the pictures.

Upper Cherry Creek POV from Jason Craig on Vimeo.