Matheny Creek - FR 21 Bridge to Q-1800 Bridge (Lower)

Matheny Creek, Washington, US


FR 21 Bridge to Q-1800 Bridge (Lower)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 4.2 Miles

Lower Matheny Creek

Lower Matheny Creek
Photo of Web Peirce by Tom O'Keefe

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12040500 7000 - 15000 cfs III-IV 00h50m 1190 cfs (too low)

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

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2001-03-08 01:53:49


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.
November 21 2016 (667 days ago)
circuitmonkey (151431)
Log jam at the start of the second canyon as of 11/20/16, pictures were uploaded.
November 7 2015 (1048 days ago)
Nick BorelliDetails
Run is clean as on 11/5/15.

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Associated Projects

  • Wild Olympics (WA)
    A campaign to protect the free-flowing rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.