Klickitat, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||III+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||53 fpm|
|Max Gradient||83 fpm|
|KLICKITAT RIVER NEAR PITT, WA|
|usgs-14113000||1000 - 3000 cfs||III+||00h54m||1780 cfs (running)|
Logistics: From the town of Glenwood head 0.5 miles east toward Goldendale and turn north on to Mt. Adams Rd. Follow this road 2.3 north to the T junction and turn left on the K1000 road. Kayakers typically continue to road mile 6.2 and a pull-out (photo) where a steep trail at the Yakama Reservation boundary allows you to scramble down into the canyon to the point where Muddy Creek joins the Klickitat. If you reach the Cougar Creek bridge at mile 7.1 you've gone too far. There is an alternative put-in downstream with much easier access and great riverside camping. This site is typically used by rafters or for those who wish to skip the more challenging rapids upstream. To reach this access, turn off the K1000 road at mile 3.3 head down into the canyon on the K1400 road (it may not be marked). Head down 0.7 miles and then turn right on K1410 and continue another 1.5 miles. At that point head left and continue on down to the river. There is a good launch for rafts and some nice camp sites at this access point which is about half a mile downstream from Dairy Creek. Most kayakers or day trippers use the take-out access at the WDFW fish hatchery. The access is 3.7 miles east of Glenwood along the road towards Goldendale. Turn northeast (you should see a sign for the hatchery) and follow the road 3.1 miles down into the canyon (the last mile is a series of switchbacks). Alternate access for longer trips is available at either the Summit Road Bridge or Leidl Campground.
Description: Kayakers and rafters usually flock to this popular section of the Klickitat around Memorial Day weekend. The put-in road typically remains snowed in at least through early spring so its a good idea to get a road report before making the trip (see Bennett's book for an entertaining story of two rafters who flagged down a snowmobile shuttle).
The upper put-in typically used by kayakers is a really heinous slide. Bring some rope to hold on to the end of your boat. At least you don't have to carry your boat--it carries you. Otherwise you can lower each boat down on its own 70' rope. The upper section starts out steep and fast but still rates class III+. You are in a gorge so once you're committed there is no access. The run is incredibly beautiful, with perfect basalt columns rising 400 feet straight out of the river in some places. The rapids consist of slides that lead directly into a big basalt headwalls and there are several fun wave trains. Boat scouting should be fine although things happen fast (photo).
After a couple of miles the rafter put-in is reached, and the run continues with a few more bigger class III rapids before calming down a bit to easy class III. The river is less steep, with bigger meander bends and many logs. The most beautiful section of the river is here, with the largest cliffs of basalt columns (photo). With the last three miles character of the river changes with fewer headwalls and easier class II+ boulder gardens.
Most kayakers take out at the Fish Hatchery (photo) while rafts continue downstream to Leidl Campground.
With contributions from Kevin Whilden