Little Wenatchee - Fall Creek to Lake Creek Campground

Little Wenatchee, Washington, US


Fall Creek to Lake Creek Campground

Usual Difficulty IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 94 fpm

First Ledge - Totten

First Ledge - Totten
Photo of Chris Totten by Chris Ohta taken 07/04/06 @ 700(ish)

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12459000 6000 - 10000 cfs IV(V) 00h28m 1080 cfs (too low)

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.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-12-04 07:37:17

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.
June 4 2018 (169 days ago)
ntwoodward (159570)
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.
July 14 2017 (494 days ago)
Jon CrainDetails
The river is completely clean of wood as of June 2017.
June 16 2009 (3445 days ago)
John SchaeferDetails
As of 6/15/09 First Ledge is clean of wood but there are still two logs in the Flume. Don't miss
that eddy! Also sounds like there is wood in the class V rapid in the lower gorge. Cheers John
July 5 2008 (3791 days ago)
x (1)
As of 4th of July 2008, there is a new log in the Flume. Currently, the Flume is a mandatory
portage, DO NOT miss the eddy before the Flume. You can scout the Flume on the way up to the put
in. While driving up, on your right you will see a sign for 13 mile creek. Park here and walk down
to your left towards the river to see the Flume and to scout what eddy you need to catch so you
don't blow into the rapid. Everything else is fairly clean. Always, keep an eye out for wood, as
the wood situation on this river changes constantly.
June 24 2007 (4167 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
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!!
June 24 2007 (4167 days ago)
Chris OhtaDetails
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.
June 24 2007 (4167 days ago)
Erik SchertzlDetails
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.
June 24 2007 (4167 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
Latest report is that as of spring 2004, the Little Wenatchee is free of wood and well worth a
June 24 2007 (4167 days ago)
Mike ArnoldDetails
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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