FUN FACT: A popular creek run in the Skykomish drainage.
SEASON: Spring snowmelt. Sometimes possible during an early fall rain event. Normally
snowed in through the winter.
LOGISTICS: Follow Highway 2 east to the bridge across the Tye River at mile marker 51
(elevation 990'). There is space for a vehicle or two and a decent takeout on the river right upstream
side of the bridge. To reach the put-in go back west across the bridge and make an immediate left onto
Tye River Road. Follow this 0.7 miles to the junction of Foss River Road (FR 68) and turn left. The bridge
across the Foss River is at FR 68 mile 1.0 and serves as an alternate takeout (if driving directly to this
takeout turn onto Foss River road from Highway 2 at mile 50.6). After crossing the Foss River bridge the
pavement ends and the road makes a hard turn to the right. At mile 2.5 you cross under the railroad
trestle which serves as an alternate put-in for the easier class III stretch. To put-in at the start of the
class IV section continue up to mile 3.5 (at the turn-off for FR 6830). To add an easy warm-up continue
to mile 5 and the FR 68 bridge across the river. Elevation here is 1500'. Check road conditions with Mt. Baker - Snoqulamie National Forest; follow link to the
forest road conditions report under the recreation link.
If you want a bit of a warm-up you can put-in as high as the FR 68 Bridge across the
Foss. If you want to avoid some logs and flat water then you can put in at the start of the action at FR
68 mile 3.5. This is at the turn-off to FR 6830 and there is a decent trail to the river that puts you in the
water just upstream of an island. From this point down the rapids are class III+ until you start to
encounter some larger boulders and a horizon line (a few short minutes downstream of the put-in). At
this point there are a couple hundred yards of class IV action until you reach an eddy upstream of Ken
and Barbie. You'll see a slope of exposed boulders (~1' diameter) on river left and a couple of very large
boulders extending into the channel. You can also scout Ken and Barbie on the shuttle by scrambling
down to the river near the mile 3 marker on FR 68 (you can sort of see it from the road but the trees
make scouting difficult).
At Ken and Barbie (video 0.5 MB) the river flows left and right around a midstream rock and these two
pourovers join in a hole at the bottom. The main hazard is wood which can easily wedge in between the
boulders here (this drop can push V-). Grab an eddy below Ken and Barbie and stay in control for
continued class IV action for the next several hundred yards (video 0.5 MB). Stay alert for logs and
enjoy the ride. Most of the rapids from this point down are straightforward but you may want to get out
a couple times to make sure the drops are clean. Shortly after leaving this section the river begins to
calm down a bit, it's easier to see the clean routes from your boat, and within a few minutes the
railroad bridge appears overhead.
The railroad bridge can serve as an alternate put-in for those who just want to enjoy a
fun (but short) class III+ creek run. Unlike the nearby Miller, the Foss has good whitewater all the way
down to the confluence with the Tye which itself has a couple of fun moderately technical class III drops
before you reach the Highway 2 bridge.
lat/long approximate by Tiger server
for additional information see:
Foss was good to go and relatively clean. One piece of wood in play in the left chute of Ken and Barbie but possible to get around. The center slot (where most of the current goes) in the drop just below Ken and Barbie was also blocked with wood.
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3 of us paddle the Foss on 6/9/09 at Med/High flow and found all the major rapids free of wood. We did find one tree, river wide about 100yrds above the Foss River Rd. bridge in class II/III water.
5 years ago
by Scott McBride
The virtual gauge for this run provides approximate flow based on the relative area of the basin and the Skykomish at Goldbar gauge downstream (the river is ideal druing spring snow melt at between 8,000 and 10,000 on this gauge). While you can run this river much lower on the Goldbar gauge, it's a lot more enjoyable when the rapids are filled in and the pin potential goes down. The relationship used for the virtual gauge is of course dependent on snow level. When the freezing level is low the river will be flowing lower than the value given and during peak snowmelt the river may be flowing higher. The Goldbar gauge is also available through the NOAA hotline 206-526-8530).
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Foss River rapid
Lining up for Ken and Barbie
Ken and Barbie
Ken & Barbie
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
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American Whitewater recently joined several organizations with an interest in stewardship and conservation of the Skykomish River Valley in requesting that Longview Timber refrain from road building or logging on key parcels in the Skykomish River valley.
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