T and I went to Looper Canyon this past weekend to dip a toe into the canyoneering world. It was a good opportunity to get a feel for the activity and decide if it’s something we want to pursue further. I’ve been learning to climb lately and I hope to take it outdoors this month and eventually into the mountains and canyons.
Looper is largely a non-technical canyon. Older beta recommends full gear and claims a 10′ rappel, but newer beta says that log jam is now down-climbable and ropes aren’t needed. I don’t have full rappel gear yet so we decided to try without, which had me a little hesitant. A few years ago I read Deaths In Yosemite, where a surprising number of people die when they descend something that doesn’t go and they can’t return. Ever since I’ve been careful not to jump or slide down the start of something I wasn’t sure would go.
The canyon itself was great. It’s beautifully carved limestone with lots of neat pools, side caves and big logs. There were was a few modest downclimbs but mostly it was just walking and swimming through an amazing canyon. The water was pretty cold so wet suits were close to essential. We had a blast. It sounds like we’re going to dip the toe in even further soon.
The canyon itself is covered in excessive detail by Canyoneering Northwest but the description to the canyon is poor with inaccurate road names and the possibility of confusing Looper Creek with the adjacent one, neither of which are labelled on most topos. Follow the Canyoneering NW description (or the Backroads mapbook) to the Caycuse river bridge. Across the bridge turn right (Rosander Main), avoid a couple minor side roads and Looper Creek will be the first bridge you get to only ~300m after the Caycuse River Bridge. If you look down it’ll be obvious that you’re above a serious canyon.
Park on the wide shoulder near the bridge. You can hike down into the canyon via the trail marked with a life jacket. It’s a steep, slippery trail. To start the canyon, hike up the road just before /north east of Looper Creek. It’s labelled Looper 100, not Looper Main, which some maps use for the road on the opposite side of the creek. It’s about a 2km walk. Stay right at the fork and then shortly after you’ll see a small gravel pit on the left. Here you can descend to the creek. The descent is a steep slippery bushwack through Rubus sp., ferns and young trees. The last 10′ to the creek are mostly vertical but there are occasional spots where you can descend. Allow ~20 min from the road to the creek. The hike down the canyon to the finish at the bridge takes 2-3 hrs.