Rapid, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||111 fpm|
|Max Gradient||129 fpm|
|virtual-6270||550 - 900 cfs||IV||00h40m||552.8 cfs (running)|
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: