EVENTS: The Cedar is the site of the annual Cedar River Slalom race typcially held in late March every year. For additional information see League of Northwest Whitewater Racers site.
FUN FACT: Permanent slalom course.
SEASON: Best in winter and spring.
Access: To reach the Landsburg Bridge (upper put-in and site of slalom course) take exit 17 (for Front Street) off I-90 in Issaquah. Drive south on Front Street through the town of Issaquah. This road makes a couple name changes but just continue south 12.5 miles to the Landsburg Bridge across the river. On your way you will pass under Highway 18 and by the Hobart store/post office. For those who run the river, a takeout (or put-in for the lower section) is available at the Highway 169 bridge near the junction with Highway 18. This access comes 7.5 miles into the run. For those who wish to run the lower section (another 9 miles) there is a take-out on river right at Maplewood Roadside Park off Highway 169, about a mile east of the Highway 169/I-405 junction. Check the map for a couple bridges that provide additional access points.
The Cedar is the site of an annual slalom race (video footage) and a course that is maintained by local volunteers throughout most of the year. Area slalom paddlers can be found practicing here throughout the spring. For those who run the river, small boulders provide good eddies and ample opportunities for practice. Some sections pass through braided channels that can collect wood debris--use caution. As you approach Renton evidence of human impacts becomes more evident. This lower section is a bit easier in terms of whitewater and sometimes used by instructors working with beginners.
Paddle Report: We paddled from the Landsburg Bridge to Belmondo Reach yesterday. The total time was 3 hours and 40 minutes; probably 20 to 30 minutes of that were spent on the shore.
The level was about 950, and decreasing during the afternoon. We were in two Aire Tributary Tomcats and one Sevylor sk100ds (this turned out to be a viable little IK for that kind of paddle).
The Cedar is beautiful and feels pretty wild for the first stretch. There are no difficult rapids, just a few unexpected boulders beneath the surface that we grazed. All in all, we encountered three places that we took out and scouted; two of them had signs and didn't pose any problems if you stay right, as the signs instruct. The third, right after one of the rusty railway/Cedar River Trail bridges had a bunch of trees blocking the main course of the river, but we could walk and float around to the other side on a side-channel which was shallow and leads past a few houses. Other kayakers walk through the trees and put back in right after the obstacle. There were trees here and there in the water, but nothing that couldn't be scouted and dealt with. At one point, we got out to find a route around a tree that crosses 3/4ths of the river, which can be passed by staying right, but within 100 ft after that, you have to get all the way over to the left and paddle under a log which bridges the river or you will be caught up in a big tangle of roots. We got out, chose a course, and paddled under the log.
I talked to people at the take-out who know the Cedar as a tubing river. It might be when the flow is 350 or less; but not at 950. Easy enough as a class II paddle, but you have to keep an eye out for strainers and root-balls.
In answer to Kevin Harrang's question: I only know the Cedar River from Belmondo Reach to Cedar River Park, where it passes under the 405 freeway. It is not the sort of river you will want to take a sea kayak on. At least on that stretch, you will need to maneuver quicker and in tighter turns than a sea kayak will allow. At lower flow rates (around 300 cfs), I've done that stretch in inner-tubes, but it was important to be able to get out of the water quickly or to walk when bottoming out. In particular, there is one area with dangerous log-jams which is well marked with a "Get Out Now!" sign which would be impossible in a sea kayak; even being able to get out in time would be difficult. After that, the river is fairly complacent, but there are still strainers, sandbars, rocks and tight turns.
I'm reading up on this whole stretch with the plan of running it next Friday in Aire IK's. I'll report back about the experience.
Question for those who've paddled the Cedar: I just did the entire length of the Sammamish River/Slough in my sea kayak, which was delightful. I'm wondering how much of the Cedar is relatively flat enough for this type of boat, which can handle occasional fast water, but no real whitewater. Thanks!
PS just biked the trail to get a look at this route, and it's definitely too swift for a sea kayak, at least the upper part. Looks fun for a river kayak though, being careful about the log jams.
We kayaked the Cedar River from SE Jones Rd. to Lake Washington. This is an update on the log-jam situation for that stretch. The flow rate that day was 490cfs. There were three log-jams that required portage. All three portages were relatively easy; no bush whacking. All the pre-flood log jams except at Ron Regis park have been cleared by the flood. So all marked log jam warning signs on the river (except at Ron Regis park) can be ignored. 3/22/2020. The 1st log-jam was at where Cavanaugh Pond USED to exist before the flooding. Now the river cuts straight through the pond and leaves the former bend dry. The 2nd log-jam is close, just before the next bend. Both of these log-jams are just before and after 163rd Ct. SE, Renton WA. The 3rd log-jam is at the middle of Ron Regis Park. No more log-jams all the way to Lake Washington. We used 10 foot flat bottom kayaks and had a great time. Obstacles other than the three log-jams that span the river can be avoided. Took us about 3.5 hours from SE Jones Rd. to Gene Coulon Park on S. Lake Washington.
On March 1, three of us kayaked (1 IK) the Cedar River from Landsburg down to Cedar Grove Rd. After the third railroad trestle Cedar River trail crossing, a log jam has enlarged and pushed the water left where it cut down a new channel. The main channel is completely de-watered leaving about a dozen riverside homes without a river. On Google map view the dry riverbed begins at the top of the lower (green) Dorre Don Natural area at the log jam. It spans the right curve in the river approximately 2295.17 ft (0.43 miles) down to the next bend. The river cuts straight left NW by 231st Pl SE around an island and rejoins below at the bend of the river. On Google Map Satellite view you can see the depression that the river followed. We saw 3 very large logs in the upper portion of the new channel. We scouted and bushwhacked thru the woods over logs and down two dry side channels to put in below the logs about 100+ yds. downstream halfway down that channel at a riverbed outlet. The rest of the side channel was clear. The remainder of the run down to Cedar Grove Rd. had wood to dodge in several places but none required portage. We observed from the road several (at least 3) logs spanning the river between Cedar Grove and Cedar River Park below Cavanaugh Pond.
My friend and I packrafted the Cedar on Feb. 19, 2020. I recently moved to Renton and was very curious what the river looked like after the recent floods. We had to portage 6 or 7 times, floating from Landsburg out to the mouth in Lake Washington. The biggest (and first) logjam came in the Dorre Don Natural Area where the oxbow was punched through at 231st Pl SE. There's a huge debris field with the river flowing through it, followed by a strainer 50 yards downstream. I didn't mark the location of every strainer, but there are also 2 blocking logs at Cavanaugh Pond, where another oxbow was blown through. A fun float with lots of mergansers, dippers, kingfishers, and bald eagles (all in the vicinity of the dump). It took us about 6 hours from Landsburg to our takeout near Kennydale Beach with a flow of around 950 CFS.
As of Jan 1, 2007, the only significant wood is a tree across the river about a half mile above the 169 Bridge. At flows higher than 1000, you can probably go right over it, but most likely a flow above 1000 will move the tree so it's out of the way.
I ran the lower section of the Cedar, from just below the upper Jones Road bridge on 11/24. The recent floods have washed out alot of the wood in the new channel that was created by the landslide during the Nisqually earthquake. Now instead of a 200 yard portage, there are just a couple logs near the end of this section. We were able to get through without portaging, but it involved some tight moves and a class 4 ferry above a river-wide log. Beginner/intermediate boaters would be well advised to make the short portage around the logs.
8 years ago
by Carla Miner
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Cedar Slalom Course
Kayak at start of Cedar River Slalom Course
Cedar River Slalom Race 2007
Knotweek survey day
C1 on Cedar Slalom Course
Cedar Slalom course start
Cedar River Slalom
gravel mitigation project
Landsburg, Slalom Course
Cedar, Landsburg Aqueduct
Cedar River Slalom course
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