Foss, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||104 fpm|
|Max Gradient||193 fpm|
|virtual-6267||500 - 900 cfs||IV+||00h53m||310.4 cfs (too low)|
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
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