Class II river trip with sections of braided river channel and wood hazards. Great eagle watching opportunities in the winter. The river flows through a short canyon section as you float by Maple Falls at the start. While the river takes you through a rural landscape, you will find limited evidence of development and have the opportunity to experience a wild river that is rare in the Puget Sound lowlands.
Access: Access continues to be a challenge on the North Fork Nooksack. The put-in for this section is approximately 30 miles from Bellingham, east of the town of Maple Falls on Highway 542. Highway 542 milepost 27 is the traditional take-out for the run upstream of this one and serves as a potential put-in. Access points in this area are all on private property, with the exception of a small parcel of DNR land that could offer some opportunities, and there is a clear need for public access. At mile 26.9 there is a paved drive (gated) that leads into a good site that outfitters have used. At mile 27.0 (upstream side of the milepost marker) there is another site which has also been used by outfitters. Both of these sites are closed off to the public and offer no parking unless you have the key. Some have used the access at mile 27.2 which has space for a car off the highway.
An intermediate access point is available at the Welcome Bridge where Mosquito Lake Road crosses the river. The access point was recently improved by Whatcom County and includes an easy river access and parking on downstream river left.
The take-out is at the confluence where the North Fork and South Fork come together. The Highway 9 Bridge crosses the river here.
Welcome Bridge river access on downstream river left where Mosquito Lake Road crosses the North Fork Nooksack River.
Complete Recreation Plan Document with Appendices.
Summary of Recreation Plan.
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Welcome Bridge Access
North Fork Nooksack
North Fork above confluence
North Fork Eagle Reserve
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The Washington Department of Natural Resources is embarking on a new planning project that will guide recreation on DNR-managed lands in the Nooksack River and Whatcom Lake watersheds for the next 10-15 years. The effort will kick off with two public open houses that will be scheduled for January.
Following a two and a half year process, the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan, has been finalized. This new, comprehensive plan will help guide the management of recreation and natural resources along the upper Nooksack River system in Washington state. The plan recognizes and supports the economic and health benefits of recreation, along with protection and restoration of the natural and cultural values of the upper river basin.
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