Calawah, S. Fork, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||53 fpm|
|CALAWAH RIVER NEAR FORKS, WA|
|usgs-12043000||2000 - 4000 cfs||III-IV||41h48m||335 cfs (too low)|
SEASON: Winter rains. November to May.
ACCESS: About a mile north of Forks, Forest Road 29 leaves highway 101 at mile 193.3 and heads east. Follow FR 29 along the Calawah 8.0 miles to the Hyas Creek bridge. The takeout is at the Hyas Creek confluence with the South Fork Calawah. To reach the put-in continue 3.2 miles east of the Hyas Creek bridge (this is before you reach Rainbow Creek) and follow spur road 070 that turns off FR 29 to the right. In 0.2 miles you'll cross the Sitkum. Continue up the hill to the Rugged Ridge trailhead which is 2 miles from the bridge. From here it's a 2.8 mile hike down (with a couple up hills along the way) to the put-in. For current information on roads check the Olympic National Forest web site (check rec reports for Pacific Ranger District - North), or call the USFS/NPS Resource Information Center in Forks 360-374-7566 or the USFS Ranger District office in Forks (360)374-6522.
This is a high quality run but you have to work for it. The hike in over the Rugged Ridge Trail requires some up hill and down hill over about half a dozen small tributary drainages. Be prepared for down trees on the trail which for most of the way is cut into the hillside and too narrow for dragging a boat. Once you arrive at the put-in, immediate action starts just around the bend as the river enters an impressive bedrock gorge. The entrance drop is West Virginia which has a couple of options and rates class III/IV at intermediate flows. For the next 1/4 mile the river flows through the gorge with great class III+ rapids before it begins to taper off a bit. Magestic Sitka spruce line the banks and plenty of boulder gardens keep the run interesting with fun class II/III rapids nearly all the way to the confluence with the Sitkum. It's another few minutes on the Sitkum before you reach Hyas Creek.
At moderate flows this run is accessible to strong intermediate paddlers. Alternatively this would be a good run for experienced pack rafters. You can expect about 2-3 hours to hike in and then approximately 2 hours for the run assuming you don't have any problems along the way. While the run has good whitewater it is short for the amount of time it takes to get in. The real reason to come here is for the wilderness paddling experience through a corner of Olympic National Park. This is one of the best runs suitable for intermediate boaters in the Park.
lat/long approximate by tiger map server
for additional information see:
Memo and supporting documents on rivers eligible for Wild and Scenic designation within Olympic National Park