SEASON: Winter rains.
LOGISTICS: The take-out is at Interstate 5 exit 210. From the exit head west on 236th St. NE for 0.5 mile to the bridge across the creek that serves as the take-out (downstream river left). To reach the put-in, head back to Interstate 5 and drive north to exit 212 and head east on Stanwood-Bryant Road for 4.1 miles to Highway 9. Head 2 miles north on Highway 9 (mile 34.9) to the bridge across Pilchuck Creek which is the put-in (downstream river right).
The whitewater on this run does not exceed class II but you may encounter wood hazards that require more advanced skills.
What you see at the put-in characterizes the first but about 5-10 minutes in you will pass under the Centennial Trail Bridge. Downstream of the bridge, the river passes through a scenic forested reach where conifers line the bank and an bedrock wall extends down river left. The section has some fun class II whitewater.
Soon a few homes come into view and then a little over halfway down the run you arrive at the Stanwood-Bryant Road Bridge (alternate access on river left about 1/4 mile upstream of the bridge). Here the channel spreads out a bit and you can expect to encounter wood hazards (it's worth driving this road on the shuttle to take a look). Downstream you will float through mixed rural residential and agricultural lands although the tribe has been working to restore native vegetation along the banks.
After you pass under I-5 the river bends to the left and soon arrives at the 236th St. NE Bridge just upstream of the river's confluence with the Stillaguamish. The take-out is on the downstream river left side of the bridge.
This section is not as popular as the Upper and Middle sections but it's still a fun float if you are looking for something easier with relatively simple logistics.
Nice class II float at 1600 cfs. Current was swift and some wood was in play. The most significant hazards were in the vicinity of the Stanwood-Bryant Road Bridge. We found a clear channel through everything.
Letter from American Whitewater to WA DOT regarding access at Highway 9 bridge across Pilchuck Creek.
Department of Ecology recently
established a realtime
gauge for this creek. The USGS
Pilchuck nr Bryant gauge is just
upstream from the Highway 9 bridge.
It's no longer an active gauge and
getting to a spot where you can actually
read the numbers would require you to
go across private property. You can
see this staff gauge from the river left
side of the bridge. Although you won't
be able to read the numbers, the top of
the board is at 5.7'(approx 2800 cfs) so
from that you can estimate what the
level is. Most paddlers use the large
rock in the middle of the river on the
upstream side of the bridge to
estimate relative flow. Look for water
coming up on the rock but not
completely covering it for ideal flows
photo). This is a rain-fed run and it
generally takes at least a day of good
hard winter rain to bring the water up.
Check the rainfall at the Arlington NWS
station. The river rises and drops
very quickly. The staff gauge roughly
corresponds (channel has likely
changed since the last set of
measurements) to cfs as follows:
3.5' - 560 cfs
4.0' - 930 cfs
4.5' - 1390 cfs
5.0' - 1950 cfs
5.5' - 2600 cfs
6.0' - 3300 cfs
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Engineered Wood Structures with Cable
Navigating Wood Hazards
Pilchuck Creek Put-in
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American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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