Icicle Creek - 2 -Johnny Creek to Snow Creek trailhead

Icicle Creek, Washington, US


2 -Johnny Creek to Snow Creek trailhead

Usual Difficulty IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)
Length 7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 125 fpm
Max Gradient 180 fpm

Horseshoe - Mark

Horseshoe - Mark
Photo of Montana Mark by Chris Ohta taken 07/09/06 @ 4300cfs@Pesh.

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12458000 700 - 2000 cfs IV-V(V+) 01h04m 276 cfs (too low)

River Description


From Highway 2 mile 99.1 (the west end of Leavenworth) turn on to Icicle Creek Road. There are several access points along this road. Popular access points include Eight Mile Campground (at mile 7), Bridge Campground (at mile 8.4), and Johnny Creek Campground (at mile 11.2). There are additional pullouts anywhere between Snow Creek Trailhead (mile 4.1) and Ida Creek (mile 12.6) that can be used as access, but avoid the private land.

Run Description

The Middle Icicle Creek run is a classic expert creek, really more of a river, pioneered in the 1960's but with challenging sections that have been tackled more recently. Beautiful granite boulders, impressive alpine scenery, and great riverside camping make this a run locals consider lucky to have in their back yard, while those on their Pacific Northwest road trips make it a scheduled stop. The Icicle Creek Road parallels the length of this run and most of the land along the river is publically owned so you have several options for accessing the river and putting together a run appropriate for your set of skills and the time available. Camping is also plentiful along this river at one of several National Forest campgrounds but during the spring boating season, paddlers, rock climbers, and mountain bikers all call this valley their outdoor playground making this a very busy place (Memorial Day weekend can be particularly crowded).

Although the traditional dividing point between the Upper and Middle run is Ida Creek, most put in at Johnny Creek Campground to skip some of the class III warm up. Those looking for maximum adrenaline also run the section below Eight Mile Campground as a run by itself.

From Johnny Creek Campground the river builds to class IV and just as the intensity starts to pick up you're at the first major horizon line. Roadside Attraction is a series of ledges than can be scouted from the road (mile 9.8). The typical line is to hit the first one on river right and then take the rest straight down the center. From river level, it's an easy scout or portage along river right. Look good for the spectators who will notice you from the road and stop to watch.

Just below this drop, the river picks up in intensity for about half a mile of constant class IV+ action. You should be able to boat scout this section. Keep your eyes open for wood hazards and avoid (or crash through) the holes. This section ends where the river tapers offf slightly and you come upon a large midstream boulder and an obvious horizon line. Get out to scout one of the bigger drops on this section.

This significant rapid, Limbo, can be scouted from the road at mile 9.2. A large chunk of bedrock extends up between the road and the river and there is a little drive that cuts off the main road and loops around it. At river level you can get out on river left and jog down the road for a look. If there are no wood hazards, the typical line is to take the river right chute at the top and then work your way over to the left hand side of the river (the consequences of staying right will be obvious as the river kind of sieves out over there). The drop often collects wood and there are several pin hazards, but if you hit your lines you'll make it look easy. At the higher range of flows some big hydraulics can develop in this drop.

A short distance below this drop the river tapers off to class II/III for the short paddle down to Bridge Creek Campground. At the downstream end of Bridge Creek Campground the river squeezes past a large bedrock wall (river right) and some large boulders. This drop is challenging V+ (Bennett rates it a VI) with a very high hazard potential--it's got it all: big hole at the top, boulder sieves, and plenty of pin potential. It has been run, but most portage on the left.

Past this drop, the river bounces through more class IV+ rapids interrupted by the more challenging Richochet, class V+. Many take-out at Eightmile as things start to kick up another notch with some solid V whitewater. If you continue downstream, you've entered the Bonus Rounds. Here the gradient increases through a short section just over 2 miles in length at about 180 feet per mile (keep in mind however that this no small volume creek). You can see a lot of this section from the road but not all of it. There is more private land once you pass Eightmile so you have to be a bit more selective in your river access. Expect to take your time portaging and probably scouting as there's plenty of action from here down to Snow Creek Falls, an unrunnable sequence of massive boulders and sieves created that owe some of their legacy to road building activity.

Additional Information

  • Nate Herbeck's Icicle Creek story on WetDawg.com
  • Bennett, J. and T. Bennett. 1997. A guide to the whitewater rivers of Washington, second edition. Swiftwater Publishing. Portland, OR.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-06-16 05:32:46

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 1 2011 (2787 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
LEAVENWORTH-A landslide that swept trees, boulders and mud down a slope has made the Icicle Creek
Road, or Forest Service Road 76, impassable, according to Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F. managers. The
Icicle Creek Road winds south and west of Leavenworth, and ends at the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area
boundary on the national forest's Wenatchee River Ranger District. On Thursday, Forest Service
managers discovered the landslide, which is located just east of the Eight Mile Campground. Some
permanent residents live west of the campground and where the landslide has made the road
impassable. Forest Service hydrologists and engineers will assess the road damage on Friday. They
are uncertain when the road will be reopened.

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Associated Projects

  • 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.