Rattlesnake Creek (Naches trib.), Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||87 fpm|
Description: This is a beautiful run with awesome scenery and great rapids. Of all the runs in the Naches drainage it offers the most significant opportunities for solitude because the road is high up on the hillside and not down along the river as is the case everywhere else. Flows are not diverted or dammed and the banks are not scattered with rip rap. It is one of the true gems of the drainage.
The run starts in a tight canyon with alternating cliffs and steep rapids. One of the first drops on this section is the most challenging on the run. You leave Forest Service lands as you pass by a private residence deep in the canyon. The river goes through a broad valley with continuous low-gradient rapids with some braided channels and gravel bar rapids. Next, it enters a winding box canyon with tall cliffs on each side. The rapids here are mostly curves into slightly undercut basalt walls. The run ends in another broad valley with some braided channels. You know you are approaching the take-out when you see the Naches River valley in front of you.
While the rapids may only rate class III, this is not a run for hesitant class III boaters and you should be prepared to make class IV moves around hazards depending on the wood situation. A half dozen portages are to be expected with the actual location shifting from year to year. That being said, this run is known for it's great scenery and is a fun trip for those with the skills to safely enjoy the run.
Logistics: This river is a tributary of the Naches accessed off Highway 410 and located upstream of the Tieton confluence but downstream of the American and Bumping Rivers. To reach the take-out, turn onto Nile Road off Highway 410 at mile 108.3. Follow this road 1.4 miles to the bridge across Rattlesnake Creek. To reach the put-in, take the FR 1500 (Bethel Ridge Road) that heads upstream on river right. This shuttle road offers some great views down into the canyon before you drop down towards the river. At mile 7.6 on this road you will take the 1502 road which turns off to the right headed for McDaniel Lake. Follow this road 0.7 miles to the bridge across Rattlesnake Creek. There is informal camping in the area around the bridge if you need a good meeting place.
With contributions from Dave Elliott