This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-V
Length 10 Miles
Flow Range 4000 - 8000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 day ago 3680 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/09/2004 4:36 pm

River Description

ACCESS: From Highway 2 mile 35.6 turn north up the North Fork Road (becomes FR 63) at the Mt. Index Cafe. You'll pass a turn-off for Forest Road 6330 at mile 9.1 that crosses the river (staff gauge on river left side of bridge center pillar). Continue on FR 63, 0.5 miles past the Troublesome Creek Bridge to mile 11.7 which marks the access point at Drumbeater where the lower run starts. From this point continue up to mile 12.3 and a pullout with a short trail down to Bear Creek Falls. Here the river carves through an impressive bedrock slot with several ledges over a span of approximately 100 yards. Continue on to mile 14.8 and the junction of FR 63 and 65. To stay along the North Fork turn up the hill to the left to stay on FR 63. At mile 16.8 FR 63 ends and you'll want to follow FR 6300. At mile 18.5 you'll come to a decent overlook that provides you with a view of the river, and at mile 19.2 you will be at the end of the maintained road and several trailheads for the wilderness areas in the basin. Check road conditions with Mt. Baker - Snoqulamie National Forest; follow link to the forest road conditions report under the recreation link.

DESCRIPTION: The Upper North Fork is less frequently boated than the more popular North Fork run downstream. It is characterized by some big drops and imposing boulder gardens interspersed with several class II sections.

The river continues downstream on the more popular North Fork Skykomish run.

Rapid Descriptions


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Scott McBride
9 years ago

The road from Index up the N Fork mentioned in this description was destroyed by storms and flooding two years ago. No signs or reports of it being rebuilt.

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Bryan Swan
15 years ago

Bear Creek Falls gets pretty rough at high flows, and becomes completely unrunable when the river at Index falls below ~700 cfs, due to piton rocks and potholes. Between Goblin Creek and Bear Creek Falls, the river is mostly Class II - III. Between Quartz Creek and Goblin Creek, the river drops down a spectacular gorge in almost constant Class V-VI whitewater, culminating in 90 foot Deer Falls (which can be seen by bushwhacking to the gorge rim at mile marker 18 on FR 63). Below the falls, the gorge extends for another 500 feet, with a few smaller ledges throughout, then ends just upstream from the mouth of Goblin Creek, where the river flows into the wider valley below.

Gage Descriptions

Historically there was a USGS gauge at Index (stn. 12134000, 1910-1948, 146 sq. mi.). The virtual gauge for this run provides approximate flow based on the relative area of the basin and the Skykomish at Goldbar gauge downstream. Keep in mind that several tributaries come in between this section and Index so actual flows will be even less than that indicated by 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.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Plan for Index-Galena Road Repairs on North Fork Sky Open for Comment (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

Snohomish County Public Works has published the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for repairs on the Index-Galena Road that historically provided access to the North Fork Skykomish River for whitewater boaters. Public input will be considered in agency decision making on whether repair of this important access road will move forward. The deadline for comments is October 31, 2016.

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North Fork Skykomish Road Repairs Continue to be Delayed (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

As another spring boating season approaches many of our members have inquired about the current status of the Index-Galena road that provides access to the North Fork Skykomish River. We need paddlers to weigh in with the Federal Highway Administration and Washington State Department of Transportation to get this project back on track. 

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Wild Sky Signed Into Law

Thomas O'Keefe

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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New Wilderness Proposed for Skykomish River (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

In May 2002 Senator Murray and Representative Larsen introduced legislation known as the Wild Sky Wilderness Act to designate wilderness areas in the North Fork Skykomish and Beckler River watersheds. American Whitewater supports proposed legislation which will provide continued access while protecting the ecological integrity of whitewater runs on the North Fork Skykomish, Beckler, Rapid, and Silver Creek.

Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1192005 07/09/04 n/a n/a