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Difficulty V
Length 4 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 700 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 49 minutes ago 4210 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 09/28/2013 4:50 pm

River Description

Although less popular than other runs in the area, if you are looking for an afternoon of adventure in the summer than you're in for a treat. To get to the take-out follow Wells Creek Rd. off of Highway 542 to Nooksack Falls and scout your take-out eddy above the drop. To get to the put-in go back to Highway 542 headed east and drive to the pull out right after mile marker 45. There is an alternate put in at mile marker 42, which avoids the braided channels but misses the first gorge.

Once on the river, you'll have to contend with a few miles of braided channels and log jams. Then as real rapids start to appear, you are upon the first gorge. Fun lead in rapids lead to an obvious need to get out and scout a vertical gorge on river left. From the cliffs above the gorge, the rapids can just be made out. If you don't like what you see, make the difficult but short portage on the left to the pool below the gorge.

After the first gorge, the rapids quickly fade away and 542 comes back into view (alternate put-in). Soon enough the rapids will begin again carrying you deeper and deeper into the canyon. When in doubt scout, for the first big rapid is a portage. All of the river goes over a powerful ledge into a monster hole, complete with logs and sieves in multiple locations. Make the portage on the left over slippery logs to the first eddy below both ledges.

Scout the next long rapid in its entirity. It ends in a fifty foot unrunnable waterfall, with a must-catch micro eddy on the right. Most all of this can be seen from the the drive to the put in, if you stop where the stone guard rail is just after mile marker 41. The top of the waterfall can just be made out. From the micro eddy, climb up and work your way down river to below the next waterfall and put back in. From here on out, there are a few more class IV drops and one diversion dam before Nooksack Falls. Scout your take-out eddy carefully because getting swept over the falls is certain death.

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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Nooksack Recreation Plan Completed (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

Following a two and a half year process, the  Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan, has been finalized. This new, comprehensive plan will help guide the management of recreation and natural resources along the upper Nooksack River system in Washington state. The plan recognizes and supports the economic and health benefits of recreation, along with protection and restoration of the natural and cultural values of the upper river basin.

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Nooksack River Recreational Use Survey (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

Do you enjoy boating on the Nooksack River? If you do, please tell us about your experience. American Whitewater is working with several partners through the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program to develop an updated recreation plan for the upper Nooksack River basin. Your input will help us guide development of this plan.

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Nooksack Falls Hydro Project

Thomas O'Keefe

The Nooksack Falls project has not been in operation since 1997, but plans to resurrect the project could have an impact on recreational opportunities. In summer 2002 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission prepared a navigation report. The following information is adapted from that report along with additional information provided by local paddlers.

Keith A. Robinson


Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191967 10/12/03 Keith A. Robinson n/a
1202765 09/28/13 Thomas O'Keefe abstract added