FUN FACT: The most convenient beginner whitewater to Seattle serving a population of over 2 million people who live within a short drive.
SEASON: Throughout the year. Popular on summer evenings.
PUT-IN: Puget Sound Energy Powerplant 2 below Snoqualmie Falls. At mile 24.1 on Highway 202 (just east of Fall City) turn onto 372nd St. Follow this 0.2 miles to the junction with SE Fish Hatchery Rd. Follow SE Fish Hatchery Rd. east 0.5 miles along the river and park in the lot outside the powerhouse gate. Hike your boat down to the powerhouse. A trail behind the powerhouse leads to a boardwalk and a trail to access the Training Pool and the best play wave on the run; in 2002 FERC's safety office ordered the utility to close this access, and the boardwalk has since been reconstructed making it more difficult to get to the river. FERC instead has ordered the utility to redirect paddlers to the downstream side of the Powerhouse for "safety" reasons which unfortunately cuts off some of the best instructional features on the run. In the past you could also easily access the pool at the base of the falls and paddle the most challenging rapid from this pool to the Powerhouse.
TAKEOUT: From the put-in travel 1.1 west on SE Fish Hatchery Rd. There are a couple pull-outs at a bridge over a small tributary along with the formal Plum's Landing Access (requires a WDFW access permit).
SHUTTLE: Easy car shuttle along SE Fish Hatchery Rd. or just take out at the fishing access at the junction of SE Fish Hatchery Rd. and 372nd St. for a short jog back to the put-in. A bike shuttle is also an option and there is now a bike rack at the Powerhouse parking lot.
The Snoqualmie River takes a spectacular plunge at Snoqualmie Falls where over 1 million tourists come each year to check out the view; paddlers come to enjoy a short class II+ section of whitewater that is dependable throughout most of the year. This is a popular training ground for beginning paddlers learning the sport and a convenient spot for a quick boat demo.
The best rapid is on the river is on the upstream side of the powerhouse. A generous eddy here is well suited to group instruction, and otherwise known as the Training Pool (a class getting ready). Once paddlers have had a few sessions on flatwater, this is a great place to begin learning in moving current. Paddlers start out on the eddy on river right and can then start practicing peel outs and ferry moves in one of a couple good jets (photo). Over towards river left there is also a fun surfing wave, the best on the river, that provides quick- learners with a fun challenge. The nice thing about this section is that as long as the river is at medium flows or below it's fairly easy to collect up swimmers who miss their roll.
Continuing on downstream past the powerhouse the run enters a short section of more consistent gradient and sustained current. Pass by the powerhouse on the far side of the river on river left. When flows are low in the bypass reach upstream of the powerhouse many folks put in on the downstream side of the powerhouse which is the official public access.
Between the powerhouse and the gaging station (the tower on river left), there are several good eddies that are particularly well suited to small group or individual instruction. Some of the best features here are over on river left. Continuing on downstream past the gaging station you can ferry over to river right and another big eddy with good beach access. Although this section doesn't have the power of the stronger jets upstream its still a good place to practice.
At the biggest drop on the run the river plunges over a sloping ledge that's fairly straightforward. There is a good eddy on river left where the group can gather. Next the river passes through a section of swift current before making a hard bend to the left at the confluence of Tokul Creek which enters from the right. Bedrock features at this corner create a couple of fun whirlpools and strong eddy lines.
From this point on the whitewater is pretty much over and you can take out at the Fish and Wildlife boat ramp at Plum's Landing (access permit required). If you don't have a permit, you can continue down to one of the informal pullouts along the road.
Downstream the river continues as a popular tubing and canoe run particularly in the summer. The typical take-out for this extended Powerhouse Run is Fall City and there are a couple of II- rapids. You can continue on down to the Snohomish River confluence (40 miles from the Powerhouse) with several fishing access boat ramps along the way that provide public access (check the map for the run to see the locations).
Access for the Powerhouse Run is available at the PSE Powerhouse.
The standard take-out for the Powerhouse Run. Also a put-in for those who wish to enjoy the less challenging run downstream. This is a WDFW facility that requires a state access permit.
Zurfleuh access on river left just upstream of the Raging River Confluence. This is a WDFW facility that requires a state access permit.
This is a popular access point serving as a take-out for the extended Powerhouse Run. Access is available on the gravel bar on river left under the Highway 202 Bridge.
This access is along Neal Road. This road is blocked near the north end. You can drive to the ramp from the south end. It is a short walk of 100 yards on the north end. This is a WDFW facility that requires a state access permit.
Access on river right just upstream of the Tolt River confluence and on the downstream side of the NE Tolt Hill Road Bridge.
Access on river right in Duvall from Taylor's Landing Park. It is accessible off the highway at the south end of town.
Access on the downstream river right side of the Crescent Lake Road bridge. This is a WDFW facility that requires a state access permit.
USGS gauge at
Snoqualmie. (also available
through the NOAA hotline
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.
Jennifer De Bruijn
Snoqualmie @Snoqualmie Falls to Plum's Landing (Powerhouse)
Powerhouse Access, Sign
Powerhouse Access Construction
Snoqualmie Falls PSE Powerhouse
Zurfleuh, Raging River Confluence Access
Fall City River Access
Neal Road WDFW Access
Tolt River Confluence
High Bridge Access
Training Pool, beach
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After more than three years of waiting the access to the Powerhouse run on the Snoqualmie River is now open for public use. While this is a short run of less than a mile, it is a popular and important section of river less than 30 miles from Seattle.
Puget Sound Energy has announced their construction schedule for the Snoqualmie Falls Powerhouse upgrades that will close access to the Powerhouse run from June 2010 to March 2013.
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