SEASON: Spring snowmelt. Snow may limit access until late spring (check road report).
FUN FACT: Continuous rapids--short but sweet.
SHUTTLE: Follow Highway 2 east to FR 65, the Beckler River Road (turnoff at mile 49.6 on Highway 2 just west of the bridge across the South Fork Skykomish). Take the Beckler River Road 6.9 miles to a bridge across the Rapid River where the pavement ends (elevation 1340'). Parking for the takeout is available on river left on the upstream side of the bridge. From the takeout follow Forest Road 6530 as it parrelels the Rapid River. It's easy to scout the run from the road and check for log hazards on your way to the put-in. You will reach the third FR 6530 bridge at mile 1.2. This serves an alternative put-in for those looking for a quick 15-20 minute run that takes in the most continuous section of whitewater. The river disappears from view (there is not much action in this section away from the road), until you get to mile 2.9 where the river comes back into view again (the big drops are just around the corner upstream). You can put in here or continue up to mile 3.0 and an undeveloped camping area (elevation 1740'). Check road conditions with Mt. Baker - Snoqulamie National Forest; follow link to the forest road conditions report under the recreation link.
Within 100 yards of the put-in the river screams to life with a stairstep sequence of waterfalls that together rates V-. Individually the drops look fairly straightforward, but packed together in a small and tight canyon they become a bit more intimidating or exciting depending on you perspective. If these drops only wet your appetite you can continue upstream to more challenging whitewater as seen in the Twitch 2000 video. Most mortal creek boaters put in below the falls and run a challenging class IV+ rapid that tapers out to class III over a distance of a couple hundred yards. If you don't like the looks of any of the put-in rapids you might want to back track downstream to the alternative put-in.
Below the entrance rapids the river calms to class II with some class III for nearly a mile. Occasional log hazards demand your attention, but this section is otherwise straightforward.
Just about the time you're beginning to wonder how long the calmer stretch will last the river kicks to life with a sharp bend to the right as the third FR 6530 bridge comes into view (the alternative put-in). At higher water the rapid just past the bridge packs a pretty good punch.
The run is all too short from this point down, but it's continuous to the takeout with a lot of different routes to choose from (video of a typical section, 1.3 MB). Log hazards are the main danger, but this run is otherwise a very user friendly class IV. There are no big huge drops or must-make slots, and only a couple boat munching holes. Individually the rapids might be class III+, but the continuous nature makes it solid class IV.
The best takeout is to continue under the Beckler Road bridge and onto the Beckler River where you can takeout on river left.
for additional information see:
Ran this on 1/13/2018. Rapid: 1000cfs (AW Virtual), Beckler: 2300cfs (AW virtual), SF Sky at Skykomish: 2500cfs and dropping. Skykomish at goldbar 11000cfs (Rain fed, not snow melt). This was certainly a below recommended level (especially at the top), but we were able to get down from 3rd bridge to the beckler with out too much boat abuse. There were 2 log jams on the outside of river bends that were avoidable if you were in control of your boat and stay out of the main channel. There was also one down tree that even at this low flow we were able to boat over. Given the low flow our group opted to skip a 2nd lap on the rapid and instead do a run down the beckler, which was a bit low as well, but not nearly as bad as the rapid. Small side note, we scouted the take out of the Miller and it seemed to have plenty of water compared to a run the previous spring (a medium flow if not high). A good alternative if you find yourself at the Rapid when it is too low to run.
I paddled the Rapid around 14,000 skykomish guage on June 3rd, the river was "bankfull". We heard it was clean of wood, however, we found we had to portage a riverwide log near the bottom of the 1st (biggest) rapid below the campground, the wood was not visible from the road and could pose a threat if someone didnt see it. We also found there to be a number of riverwide logs from after the 1st rapid to the 1st bridge you come to, most we could get over, barely, I suspect at lower flows you would be portaging. Scout your put-in carefully!
Post Flood Update: I got in a quick run on the lower section from the 3rd bridge down on 11/9. I didn't go past the 3rd bridge to check out the upper part of the run, but the lower, continuous section was good to go. There is some wood, but nothing that had to be portaged and you can see the wood from the road. Most of it is the same old wood from before with one exception. There is a big ol' log in the ledge on river right a few hundred yards upstream from the takeout. Easy to get around on the left. It's just a bummer because that slot is the most "ledgy" spot in the lower part of the run and you need to miss it now.
Ran the rapid 6/3/06, the road is completely repaired and you can drive all the way to the put-in. There are two log portages, one near the beginning and the other about halfway through.
I made several runs this year on the Rapid both during winter rain and spring snowmelt. It seems that it takes a higher level on the Goldbar gage for rain than for snowmelt. During winter rain runs, we had medium water level at 12,000 and low water (but runnable) at 9,000. However, during snowmelt in June we had a medium level with 7,000 cfs at Goldbar. In fact, 7,000 snowmelt was about the same as 12,000 rain. You can get a good look at the level at the bridge over the Rapid at the mouth. If you don't like what you see, big deal... it's a short drive to the Foss, Miller, Tye and Money Crk.
As of spring 2004, there is a massive landslide/washout across the road about 2 miles up from the Beckler confluence. Looks like it has been there all winter and will be quite a project to repair. You can still put in just above the third bridge and run laps on that last mile+ section which is where most of the good stuff.
Comments on the Environmental Assessment for the proposed Skykomish Geothermal Consent to Lease project
Scoping Comments on the proposed Skykomish Geothermal Consent to Lease project
The virtual gauge for this run is
based on the relative area of the basin
and the Skykomish at Goldbar gauge downstream
(the river is best around 10,000 cfs on
this gauge). The relationship used for
the virtual gauge is of course
dependent on snow level. When the
freezing level is low the river will be
flowing a bit lower than the value given
and during peak snowmelt the river
may be flowing higher. The Goldbar
gauge is also available through the
NOAA hotline 206-526-8530).
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.
Final stretch on the Rapid.
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Last week President Bush signed a bill making Wild Sky the first new wilderness area in Washington State in more than a quarter century. The new wilderness includes the headwaters of several whitewater runs including the North Fork Skykomish, Silver Creek, Rapid, and Beckler.
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