Icicle Creek - 1 - Rock Island Campground to Johnny Creek (Upper)


Icicle Creek, Washington, US

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1 - Rock Island Campground to Johnny Creek (Upper)

Usual Difficulty II-III+(V) (for normal flows)
Length 11.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 60 fpm

Rock Island Rapid


Rock Island Rapid
Photo of Jon Albright by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/15/14 @ 1360 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
ICICLE CREEK ABOVE SNOW CREEK NEAR LEAVENWORTH, WA
usgs-12458000 700 - 2000 cfs II-III+(V) 4d12h14m 360 cfs (too low)


River Description

The upper reach of Icicle Creek has some fun whitewater but the personality of this run is hard to pin down: a class II braided mess, class V hair, or delightful class III? This run has a little bit of everything.

The run starts off with a fun class IV drop at Rock Island. Put-in upstream of the bridge and run the drop under the bridge to the delight of spectators who hike the Icicle Gorge Trail, camp at Rock Island, or enjoy the day-use area on the downstream river left side of the bridge. 
 
Continuing downstream, the river is fairly continuous class II with fun stretches of class III. Expect to find wood in play and remember that the water is always cold--they call this Icicle Creek for a reason.
 
You will recognize the approach to Icicle Gorge as the river takes a hard bend to the left at a big bedrock wall that extends down to the river along river right and forms a fun rapid. As the river makes another hard bend to the right you will be looking downstream into Icicle Gorge--you should see the footbridge that crosses the river. 
 
Icicle Gorge can be easily scouted before the run as a trail parallels both sides of the river and a bridge crosses the heart of the gorge just above the crux move--a class V drop with a massive boiling hole. To portage this, you can run the first class IV entrance drop into the gorge and then grab an eddy on river right that provides easy access to the riverside trail. Shoulder your boat and hike down to the footbridge, cross to river left, and hike up the short switchback trail to the road. You can put-in by hiking a couple hundred hards to the Chatter Creek Guard Station. A social trail behind the toilet heads down towards the river but kind of disappears before you reach the river (keep angling upstream). If you don't want to deal with the poor footing, you can just continue down the road about 1/4 mile to where the river comes up against the road.
 
Downstream of Icicle Gorge, the river is mostly class II with the occasional short stretch of class III but stay alert for wood hazards. As you approach the confluence with Doctor Creek, you will encounter the devastation from the Doctor Creek landslide that closed the Icicle Creek Road from 2008 to 2011. The debris flow from that event has resulted in a braided channel at the Doctor Creek confluence and a lot of wood. Icicle Creek Road once ran along the river here but the flooding that resulted from the slide caused the Forest Service to reroute the road. For the near future you can expect a portage or two as the river works to establish its preferred channel.
 
Once you pass the debris field, the river continues with a similar character past Ida Creek Campground and down to the FR 7605 Bridge. Here the pace begins to pick up a bit and for the next mile you have some great class III+ (pushing class IV at higher flows) all the way down to Johnny Creek Campground. 
 
Logistics:
 
From Highway 2 mile 99.1 (the west end of Leavenworth) turn on to Icicle Creek Road. 
 
Johnny Creek Campground is one possible take-out located 11.2 miles up Icicle Creek Road. Several sites in the campground provide convenient river access but if they are all full, you can find a good access at a mini beach between sites 5 and 6 that avoids walking through someone's campsite.
 
The FR 7605 Bridge 12.2 miles up Icicle Creek Road is another access that avoids the final mile of continuous class III+.
 
The Ida Creek Campground 12.6 miles up Icicle Creek Road has served as a take-out for this run but it can also be a put-in for a short mile and a half run down to Johnny Creek (good for an evening lap when you are spending your days on the Wenatchee but camping along Icicle Creek).
 
You can view the Icicle Gorge 15.0 miles up Icicle Creek Road immediately across from Chatter Creek Campground. You should see the foot bridge across the gorge if you look down towards the river and there is a short switch back trail here that takes you from the road down to the trail along the river.
 
The Rock Island put-in is reached at 16.5 miles up Icicle Creek Road where you turn left at the Y and continue another 0.1 mile to the bridge across Icicle Creek. To run this first drop, access the river on the upstream river left side of the bridge.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-12-25 05:17:35

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.6Icicle Creek GorgeVPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Icicle Creek Gorge (Class V, Mile 1.6)

Icicle Creek Gorge

Icicle Creek Gorge
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/15/14 @ 1360 cfs

A short class V gorge that can be easily portaged.




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  • Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (WA)
    The Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests are home to some great whitewater runs and AW has in interest in protecting the resource values of these rivers.