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Difficulty II-III
Length 13 Miles
Gauge CHEWUCH RIVER AT WINTHROP, WA
Flow Range 800 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 months ago 219 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/01/2016 10:14 pm

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Twenty Mile Creek Rapid

Class - III Mile - -19.5

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 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

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

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

Comments

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River Smith
|
2 years ago

There is a full river log obstruction a couple miles down from the camp four campground put in. easily portaged on river left.

Summary of Gauge Readings

Note: The flow range for this run used to be listed as 800-1200, but several people have run it at 1800-2000 cfs and did not find it significantly harder than class III.The old range was based on the "20% of the Methow at Pateros" rather than the Chewuch gauge.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
CHEWUCH RIVER AT WINTHROP, WA
AW Gauge Info
219 cfs ℹ️ 84d16h12m n/a
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Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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News

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TAKE ACTION: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Plan Open for Comment

2011-09-15 20:53:00-04
Thomas O'Keefe

The Forest Service is developing a new Forest Plan for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and has released a Proposed Action. The Forest Service is accepting public comment on this plan that will guide management for the next decade or more. 

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Yakama Nation Fisheries Boater Survey (WA)

2013-02-08 14:46:00-05
Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater is reaching out to our membership to encourage participation in a study of boating conditions and recreation safety conducted by consultants working with the Yakama Nation Fisheries program. The study reaches include Nason Creek, Twisp River, and Chewuch River. The overall purpose of the study is to identify known and anticipated river users and evaluate riverine hazards as habitat restoration projects are planned and implemented.

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TAKE ACTION: Protect Methow Headwaters

2017-01-31 13:20:00-05
Thomas O'Keefe

The Bureau of Land Management is currently accepting public comment on a proposal to protect the Methow Headwaters from an industrial-scale copper mine above the town of Mazama. The proposed mine would negatively impact the incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Methow Valley. A strong show of public support will be required to secure protection for this river valley.

article main photo

Take Action to Protect Methow Headwaters

2017-10-17 16:06:00-04
Thomas O'Keefe

The Methow Valley, located in the foothills of the North Cascades, is one of the Northwest's most popular recreation destinations. It is surrounded by public lands that provide year-around opportunities for outdoor recreation including whitewater paddling on rivers like the Methow, Lost, and Chewuch. A current threat to the valley and the recreational opportunities available is a proposed large-scale copper mine in the heart of the valley. The Forest Service has requested input on a proposed action to declare the Methow Headwaters off-limits to any new mining activities while Congressional leaders work on a permanent solution to protect this landscape.
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Gregory Knab

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Thomas O'Keefe

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David Elliott

Treasurer