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
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
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
The gauge is located downstream near Forks after
several tributaries join but something around 3000 cfs
is a nice level. You can certainly do this run higher than
the range here but the difficulty at the start would bump
up a bit.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
South Fork Calawah
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