FUN FACT: A couple of really fun class IV rapids
SEASON: During the rainy periods from November to May. Snow can limit access to the put-in. Elevation at the put-in is around 700'.
ACCESS: From Highway 101 mile 306.0 turn up Dosewallips River Road (FR 2610). To reach the take-out follow this road 5.9 miles to FR 2620 (unmarked) which is the turn-off for Six-Mile Bridge. Follow this road a short distance down to the bridge. From the signs along the road you might think you are on a private driveway but it is in fact a public Forest Service road. Stop on the bridge to check out The Pinch, but avoid the private property that includes the land around the bridge and down to the river. Continue across the bridge and turn left to an access on river right about 0.1 miles downstream from the bridge. To reach the put-in, return back to FR 2610 and continue up river to mile 11 and the put-in at Elkhorn Campground. NOTE: A washout 1 mile before the campground has closed road access to this campground, but you can still hike beyond the washout if you want to run The Maze. Check the Olympic National Forest web site for current road conditions. During the winter, snow often limits passage beyond mile 6 unless you have a high-clearance truck. Shortly beyond this point, however you enter the National Forest and the river closely parrellels the river providing you with several alternate access options.
The meat of this run starts near the beginning with The Maze (check out the back cover photo on Gary Korb's guide to the OP). This challenging class IV+ rapid consists of a boulder garden with a long (~500 yds.) complex series of chutes that have to be negotiated. It's easy to scout from the road on the way to the put-in where you can also decide to put in below the Maze if you wish. It can be difficult to find this rapid at the right level. At low water levels there just aren't many good routes, while there are plenty of places to get pinned. At high water things get a little fast and hairy (it doesn't take much to push this to class V).
After the Maze, the pace of the river mellows as you pass through a few more boulder gardens and some fun little rapids. The middle section can be a little long at the lower limit of flows if you came for the class IV action, but if you came for just a small shot of class IV adrenalin then the middle section is quite enjoyable. There are several good class III rapids making it a good introduction to creeking at the lower range of flows. Wood is always an issue on this run so stay alert.
Towards the end of the run the pace picks up again as you approach the Pinch. The rapid above it can be seen as you're driving to the put-in (just upstream of the turn-off for FR 2620). There is a mid-stream island with a good route along the left-hand side. This channel slams into a bedrock wall and then makes a hard turn to the right (photo). At river level the drop is tricky to boat scout but it can be done if you can catch the small eddies along the left. Alternatively, hop out at the top of the island for a look. You'll then have a short recovery stretch through a narrow bedrock chute before you reach The Pinch (photo). Depending on flows and your skills you can often boat scout it, but if you're unsure just get out on river right to scout it from the rocks. It's always a good idea to check for logs here. The river slices through a bedrock chute which takes you from left to right before making a hard turn to the left through The Pinch where most of the current passes through a narrow slot that's not visible from the top of the rapid--just make sure you're not floating sideways. Depending on flows, the hole at the bottom of the Pinch has given some boaters trouble.
Use caution in this final section as there are places where wood becomes lodged between the bedrock walls. The land around Six Mile Bridge is privately owned so stay below the high water mark to scout and be polite to the property owners.
Shortly after crossing under the bridge you reach the takeout on river right.
lat/long approximate from tiger map server
for additional information see:
Ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the proposed hydropower project on the Dosewallips River.
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
There is now a Washington DOE gauge and NOAA provides a feed to our website but it reports in stage height. Check levels from Six Mile Bridge and look for about 600 cfs. Historically there was a USGS gauge on this river (stn. 1205300 , 1931-1968, 93.5 sq. mi.) but it is no longer active.You can get an idea of flows by looking at nearby realtime gauges. The run is best after a good rain but holds it's water for a few days and can still be fun at lower flows. Look for the Elwha and SF Skokomish to be up between 1200 and 4500 cfs and the Dungeness to be between 250 and 900 cfs. These ranges are very approximate. At the lower limit of flows rapids are III+ and at higher flows expect pushy class IV+.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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Running the Pinch
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The extensive road network in Olympic National Forest has deteriorated over the last few years with the reduction in logging intensity and corresponding lack of routine maintenance. The road failures have resulted in destruction of aquatic habitat and reduced access. Repair work and decommissioning has begun with the introduction of a new road management plan in fall 2002.
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