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Difficulty IV(V)
Length 3.5 Miles
Gauge WENATCHEE RIVER AT PESHASTIN, WA
Flow Range 6000 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 19 minutes ago 910 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/24/2019 10:36 pm

River Description


The Little Wenatchee boasts a wide range of desirable flows, long season, crystal clear water, great class IV/V rapids, beautiful scenery, an easy shuttle, and close proximity to other runs.

The run starts off with short warm-up that leads to a clean and powerful 8 foot vertical drop called First Ledge. It's an obvious horizon line and an easy scout on river right. After First Ledge the river continues with some easy class II and just as you're starting to wonder when the action will pick up you reach some fun class III rapids and enter the First Gorge.

The First Gorge starts out with a couple of fun rapids before you reach The Flume and with it the action cranks up to some great class IV. The Flume is a series of holes and waves in a tight mini gorge that requires a sharp left hand turn at the end to avoid the headwall on river right. It's an impressive view from upstream as the river appears to dead end in the wall at the bottom. You can scout the whole gorge from river left and this is recommended if you haven't been down before as wood has been known to collect in the narrow slot at the bottom.

The action continues with great class IV whitewater and continuous action. You will eventually come to Let's Make a Deal. This rapid is marked by a big wall on river left and starts out with a tricky entrance slide towards river left that is hard to see from above. You then want to work your way over to river right and a small eddy above the river right slot for Let's Make a Deal. Routes through other slots are possible depending on flows and your skills.

Shortly after Let's Make a Deal the canyon walls peel back and the run continues with a short class II section. Just as things start to pick up again you're at the entrance for the Second Gorge. Use caution here as things start off as class III but quickly build to what most consider the one class V drop on the run. You can portage this section on river right (easier than the river left route mentioned in Bennett's guidebook) or scout from above. The crux move involves a narrow slot with a double hole sequence. The first hole makes it difficult to line up for the second and many runs finish off with some exciting performances. There is a decent recovery pool at the bottom where a waterfall cascades in on river right (there's a good seal launch rock downstream of the falls for those who are portaging).

The Second Gorge continues with more great class IV fun. These standout rapids, along with lots of incredible smaller rapids, make the Little Wenatchee a great way to spend an afternoon - or a full day if you are not sure of the strainer situation (the run has many blind corners lacking good eddies).

Wood has been an issue in some years so it's good to get local beta before heading out. Check out the Little Wenatchee on Jason Rackley's Oregon Kayaking for a story of trying to do the run at a time when there was lots of wood.


Logistics: From Highway 2 at Coles Corner (just upstream of Tumwater Canyon) turn north onto Highway 207 towards Lake Wenatchee. Continue on this road as it becomes Lake Wenatchee Highway and runs around the north end of the lake. You will pass the turn for White River Highway but stay to the left and continue on across the White River. In 11.8 miles from Highway 2 the road becomes Forest Road 65. At mile 16.6 you will pass the turn for Forest Road 67. You can use this for an alternate access on river right but most continue on upstream Forest Road 65 on river left. At mile 20.7 you will reach Lake Creek Campground. This campground is the take-out and it's a couple hundred yards down a trail to the river. You will want to hike in to check out the river so you recognize the take-out. To reach the put-in continue on upstream to mile 23.5 and a gate. You can park here and hike straight down the hill to the river. It's about a 10 minute walk down to a point just a short distance upstream of First Ledge.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Nathan Woodward
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8 months ago

Clean as of 6/3/2018. Due to a navigation error on my part, we accidentally ran past the normal takeout to the Rainy Creek Campground - located on river right. Lots of class II in this area, but a very nice class IV gorge that is a step easier than the stuff up above. Totally worth the extra ~45 minutes on the water.

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Jon Crain
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1 year ago

The river is completely clean of wood as of June 2017.

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Chris Ohta
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11 years ago

As of July 4, 2006, there is only one mandatory portage that our group found. We had been told about the wood in "the Flume" so we were looking for it. It could be very scary if you didn't know it was there or didn't scout. Consider "the Flume" mandatory portage at this time. Everything else was good to go, but things can change.

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Thomas O'Keefe
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11 years ago

As of spring 2007 the run was totally clean with no wood portages (aside from a log across the last drop at Lake Creek Campground). Of course this situation can chance at any time and you should still scout the blind corners on your first run down. Awesome run!!

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Erik Schertzl
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11 years ago

We ran The Little Wenatchee in May of 2005 after confirming the rumors of the run being fairly free of wood. We were pleasantly surprised to find great IV - IV+ action at the levels we were there (800 - 900 cfs). We thought those levels were about perfect. We chose to put in on river left based on some locals input. We took out at (decommisioned) Lake Creek Campground. The put-in/take-out instructions in the guidebook and how they look on a Gazetteer seemed confusing. Simply drive up the river-left side after leaving Lake Creek Campground. Once you see a Forest Service Gate, about 3 miles up the road, (open or closed doesn't matter), park on the outside of the gate, and hike directly down to the river. This puts you a short ways above the first good drop (7 ft ledge), and the action doesn't stop until Lake Creek Campground. We did the run with zero portages, but one or two might be prudent depending on ability, water level, and any shifting of logs that may occur. I've put a couple of series of pictures in the gallery, showing where we encountered a few logs of note. I recommend this run as one of WA's best class IV - IV+ rivers.

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Mike Arnold
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11 years ago

The Little Wenatchee (WA) is one of those rivers you see in the guidebook and you just know it's going to be a jewel. Lots of Class 4 and some 5 in a technical, steep gorge in a remote area waaaaaay up in the mountains above Lake Wenatchee. In Jeff Bennett's guidebook, Gary Korb wrote the description and calls it"one of my favorite runs." Must be a classic. Here's the unfortunate reality: Currently, there is bad wood in every major drop except Let's Make a Deal. We're talking total closeouts. There's also must-walk wood in other reaches of the gorge sections. Expect arduous portages around some fantastic rapids - it's a true heartbreak, really. Some of the sticks are tough to see from upriver and committing to an unrunnable, unportageable situation is a frighteningly real possibility. It's probably gonna need at least 15K to 20K on the Wenatchee gauge to clean it out. Maybe more. BTW, we had plenty of water with the main Wenatchee flowing 4,100 cfs, but it would get scrapy with any less water. The road to the put-in is impassable about 1/2 mile short of the end. It's an easy but long hike to the end of the road and across the clearcut to the river. Mike Arnold 6/12/01

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Thomas O'Keefe
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11 years ago

Latest report is that as of spring 2004, the Little Wenatchee is free of wood and well worth a visit.

Summary of Gauge Readings

The Department of Ecology has a realtime gauge on this creek.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
WENATCHEE RIVER AT PESHASTIN, WA
AW Gauge Info
910 cfs 00h18m
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Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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News

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Wenatchee River Festival 2008

2008-06-12 00:00:00-04
Thomas O'Keefe

There's still snow in the mountains and flows have been great all spring as boaters from across Washington state gear up to host the Wenatchee River Festival on one of the region's premiere whitewater rivers. Boaters from across the Pacific Northwest will all converge on the town of Cashmere this weekend for a great weekend of fun and activities on the water.

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Matt Muir

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Thomas O'Keefe