Duckabush, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||55 fpm|
|Max Gradient||90 fpm|
|DUCKABUSH RIVER NEAR BRINNON, WA|
|usgs-12054000||400 - unknown cfs||IV||00h38m||659 cfs (running)|
SEASON: November through July with good rain or snowmelt.
FUN FACT: Short section of fun class IV
LOGISTICS: The take-out is at the Duckabush River bridge at Highway 101 mile 310.2. From the take-out, head north 0.2 miles to FR 2510 (Duckabush Road) which runs along river left. Head 6.2 miles along the road to a bridge across the Duckabush. An alternate put-in which avoids the portage around the start of the gorge is the Ranger Hole Trail (trail 824), which is 3.7 miles up Duckabush Road at the Forest Service cabin (the cabin is available for rent). It's a mile hike down to the river. During the winter, snow will likely limit access to the upper put-in, but the road is plowed up to the Ranger Hole Trail. Check the current conditions report for road condition at the USFS Olympic National Forest web site.
The Duckabush has some great rapids, but the hike at the start of the run and the paddle out through braided channels make it a bit less appealing than other runs nearby. Despite this, it's a beautiful river and well worth checking out if you're looking for a new adventure.
Approximately two miles of good intermediate rapids characterize the start of the run from the bridge. The downside however, is once you reach the gorge you need to portage up and around it for nearly a mile (Korb notes there may be some good rapids downstream of the first portage where a boulder closes off the river, but the difficulty is getting back to the river). The portage trail joins up with the Ranger Hole trail which heads down to the river.
If you want to avoid the portage and still hit the best rapids, then you can hike in from the road on the Ranger Hole Trail. This also requires about a mile hike in. Once you reach the river, scout out the rapids and work your way upstream a couple hundred yards to launch. This is the best section of rapids on the run and it's an incredibly beautiful spot.
Below this point you have about a mile of fairly continuous class IV boulder gardens separated by sections of class III rapids through scenic bedrock canyons. These are great drops that you can boat scout. Unfortunately however the run begins to taper down quickly after about a mile to class III, II, and then becomes a float out through braided channels for the last couple miles. If you put in at Ranger Hole, this lower section will be about 2/3 of the run. The river remains beautiful through this lower section until you near the end and come up to lots of homes and reinforcing walls used to stablize the banks. Beware that log jams can be a hazard in this section.
lat/long very 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