Difficulty III-IV
Length 4.2 Miles
Flow Range 7000 - 15000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 28 minutes ago 793 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 11/10/2019 4:51 am

River Description

FUN FACT: Good continuous class III/IV boating

SEASON: Winter rain storms.

PUT-IN: FR 21 bridge across Matheny Creek

TAKEOUT: Q-1800 bridge across Matheny Creek

LOGISTICS: At mile 137.5 on Highway 101 take FR 21 east (this is also marked as West Boundary Road). Follow FR 21 to mile 7.9 and the put-in bridge across Matheny Creek (parking upstream river right). Continue to mile 8.2 on FR 21 and turn left onto FR 2180. Follow this road 0.2 miles and turn left on Q-2000. Follow this road 2.6 miles to the takeout bridge across Matheny Creek (it actually becomes Q-1800 about 1 mile into this drive as you make a hard left turn at a gate that blocks continued travel on Q-2000). Parking is upstream river left. For current information on roads check the Olympic National Forest web site (check rec reports for Pacific Ranger District - South) or call 360-956-2400.

DESCRIPTION: Although a short run by itself, the lower section of Matheny Creek is a great intermediate creek run. Another bonus is that the bedrock gorges have good water even at relatively low levels. You can lengthen this run by combining it with the middle section which contains some good class III whitewater (see descriptions for upper and middle sections). The first gorge consists of several III+ rapids packed together for nearly continuous action with a couple of spots requiring class IV moves. At higher levels these rapids can become class IV, but everything is fairly straightforward for those with good boat scouting skills. The action tapers off slightly through a short stretch before you hit the second gorge. This gorge is similar in nature to the first but slightly longer with several more fun class III+ rapids. It ends with two IV- rapids that require scouting (at least to check for logs). The first is "Call 911", a ledge that drops into a set of holes on river left and the second is "Bowling Ball", a narrow chute with a 15' diameter "bowling ball" complete with giant-size finger holes on river right. After this drop the river tapers off for the final time and the takeout bridge comes into view within a few minutes.

lat/long approximated by Tiger map server

photo credit: Web Peirce runs Bowling Ball at low water, shot by Tom O'Keefe

for additional information see

  • Korb, G. 1997. A paddlers guide to the Olympic Peninsula. third edition.
  • local expert: Gary Korb & Carol Volk, 4930 Geiger Road, Port Orchard, WA 98366, 206-876-6780
  • Bennett, J. and T. Bennett. 1997. A guide to the whitewater rivers of Washington, second edition. Swiftwater Publishing. Portland, OR.
  • Pacific Ranger District, South - USFS Olympic National Forest web site

Rapid Descriptions


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Matthias Fostvedt
1 year ago

Ran it 12/12/18 with 15,000 cfs and dropping. The log jam from 2016 is now passable on the left. As you pass, there is still one river-wide log that was about 6-7 feet above river level. This may become an issue at extremely high water. Other than that, no hazards.

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Nick Borelli
4 years ago

Run is clean as on 11/5/15.

Gage Descriptions

Something around 800 cfs is about right although you can run this section at relatively low water. Check the USGS Queets gauge (Matheny is a Queets trib) and look for flows of at least 2000 cfs (10,000 is better). At the put-in bridge, check the big rock on upstream river left and look for water about halfway up the rock for a good moderate level. This section can be run higher or lower.

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.

No Accident Reports




article main photo

Congress to Take Up Wild and Scenic River Bills Covering Over 1000 River Miles

Thomas O'Keefe

This week, the House Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will hold a hearing on bills that would designate over 1000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. American Whitewater has brought the voice of the whitewater paddling community to the discussions that led to these legislative proposals with a goal of protecting rivers and the whitewater paddling experience.

article main photo

Addressing Road Problems in Olympic National Forest (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

The extensive road network in Olympic National Forest has deteriorated over the last few years with the reduction in logging intensity and corresponding lack of routine maintenance. The road failures have resulted in destruction of aquatic habitat and reduced access. Repair work and decommissioning has begun with the introduction of a new road management plan in fall 2002.




Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213865 11/10/19 Water1 updated description
1212588 06/01/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1191957 03/08/01 Thomas O'Keefe n/a
1210896 01/25/19 Thomas O'Keefe photo update