Chewuch - 2. Camp Four to Five Mile Bridge (The Middle)

Chewuch, Washington, US


2. Camp Four to Five Mile Bridge (The Middle)

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 13 Miles
Avg. Gradient 32 fpm

Chewuch River

Chewuch River
Photo of Cyn Taylor and Web Peirce by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/29/16 @ 1220 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12448000 800 - 2000 cfs II-III 21d01h51m 219 cfs (too low)

River Description

This run flows through pine forests in the Chewuch Valley, with only a few distractions of civilization that are mostly near the end. You will find plenty of camping at one of three Forest Service Campgrounds or at any of the dozens of dispersed camping areas along the river. Expect a lot of campers along the river Memorial Day weekend, when flows are typically ideal.
Most of the run is swift-moving class I-II with some braided channels but there are three good class III rapids at the start, middle, and end of the run. Don't come looking for continuous whitewater but if you enjoy a nice float with some good picnic spots along the way, this is a beautiful river. With some effort, the class III rapids can be scouted on the shuttle, but confident intermediate paddlers will be able to boat scout them.
After a mile of intermittent class II, you will reach the first class III rapid, Twentymile Creek Rapid, which is a narrow, straight boulder garden. You will catch a glimpse of this rapid on the shuttle between Chewuch and Camp 4 Campgrounds. Although trees partially obstruct the view, the river runs along the road.
The next class III- is Fall Creek Rapid at Fall Creek Campground, which is about 6 miles into the run. Look for the campground fences on the right. The rapid starts around a blind curve, but it is easier than it looks from the scout.
After this rapid, the paces again slows down to a nice float. Continue to stay alert for wood hazards. Some private lands start to line the river bank and you will begin to encounter riverside cabins.
The final class III+ rapid, Boulder Creek Rapid, comes just below some old bridge abutments. This rapid is a continuous boulder garden rapid that is nearly a mile long with an irrigation dam near the end. At lower flows the rapid is more of a sequence of rapids with short recovery pools in between but at higher flows it is more continuous. Confident class III paddlers should not have a problem boat scouting but you can check it out on the shuttle or you can easily take out above it--at the river right bridge abutment. Stay right as you approach the Chewuch Diversion Dam and run the narrow fish passage channel on river right to avoid going over the main drop of the dam. In 2008 the dam was modified to provide fish passage and enhance boater safety. The main drop of the dam is now a grouted rock ramp which prevents the formation of a recirculating hole that used to be an extreme hazard at this site. The irrigation gate and structure associated with it make it easy to spot from above. You will also be able to see it by looking upstream from the take-out bridge.
Logistics: On the west side of Winthrop at Highway 20 mile 192.6, turn north on West Chewuch Road (next to the town ball field and across from the Red Barn). Continue on this road for 6.8 miles and turn right to the bridge that crosses the Chewuch River. The standard take-out is here on river right within the bridge right-of-way.
To reach the put-in continue upstream along river right on West Chewuch Road. In 0.6 mile you will reach the Okanogan National Forest Boundary and it becomes Forest Road 51 (the boundary sign is mile 0 on FR 51). 
At mile 0.3 on FR 51 you will see the turn for 5100-015 spur that heads down to the river at an old bridge crossing. This is a dispersed campsite but it is also a possible take-out if you do not want to run the last, and most challenging, class III+ rapid.
You will pass other campgrounds along the way including Falls Creek Campground (FR 51 mile 4.6), Chewuch Campground (FR 51 mile 7.8), and Camp 4 Campground (FR mile 10.5).
At mile 10.6 on FR 51 (just past Camp 4 Campground) you will reach FR 5010. Turn onto this road which immediately crosses the river. There is a good put-in access on the upstream river right side of the bridge.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-06-01 22:14:54


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-19.5Twenty Mile Creek RapidIIIPhoto
-13.7Fall Creek RapidIIIPhoto
-9.0Boulder Creek RapidIII+Photo
-8.1Chewuch Diversion DamN/AHazard Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Twenty Mile Creek Rapid (Class III, Mile -19.5)

Twentymile Creek Rapid

Twentymile Creek Rapid
Photo of Web Peirce by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/29/16 @ 1220 cfs

A fun class III boulder garden rapid that is a long read and run.

48.704688, -120.125137

Fall Creek Rapid (Class III, Mile -13.7)

Fall Creek Rapid

Fall Creek Rapid
Photo of Web Peirce and Cyn Taylor by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/29/16 @ 1220 cfs

Fall Creek Rapid is a class III- and shorter than the other two class III rapids on the run. The rapid bends around to the left as you pass the Fall Creek Campground.

48.634510, -120.155495

Boulder Creek Rapid (Class III+, Mile -9.0)

Boulder Creek Rapid

Boulder Creek Rapid
Photo of Cyn Taylor by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/29/16 @ 1220 cfs

The longest and most challening rapid on the run, Boulder Creek Rapid begins at a pair of old bridge abutments and continues for nearly a mile to the take-out. This section is really a set of several rapids stacked together.

48.578844, -120.174965

Chewuch Diversion Dam (Class N/A, Mile -8.1)

Irrigation Dam, right side

Irrigation Dam, right side
Photo of Cyn Taylor by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/29/16 @ 1220 cfs

Towards the end of Boulder Creek Rapid and just barely visible from the take-out bridge. Hit the fish passage channel on the right to avoid the dam which is easy to see as you approach it.

48.566891, -120.175716

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 1 2016 (959 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
We encountered a riverwide log jam a mile and a half downstream of Falls Creek Campground
associated with an engineered log structure that required a portage. The rest of the run was clean.
Long sections of flatwater on this run but it's a beautiful river. The final mile of class III+ was
great. It would be easy to lap it a couple times if you are in the area and want a quick and easy
whitewater fix just a few miles from Winthrop.
April 11 2016 (1010 days ago)
Riversmith (158118)
There is a full river log obstruction a couple miles down from the camp four campground put in.
easily portaged on river left.

Associated Projects

  • Methow River
    American Whitewater supports the conservation and stewardship of the Methow River.
  • Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (WA)
    The Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests are home to some great whitewater runs and AW has in interest in protecting the resource values of these rivers.