LOGISTICS: To get to the river take exit 33 off I-90 and head north towards the truck stop. The Middle Fork Road (FR 56) turns off the right within a half mile or so. Start your trip odometer and watch for milepost signs. At mile 11.5 you will reach a large parking area just downstream from the confluence with the Taylor River. This is the main trailhead for the trail that runs along river left and there is a foot bridge across the river and a good access. Continuing on to mile 12, you will cross the Taylor River and within 100 yards the Middle Fork Road turns off to the right and heads up a short hill (it's easy to miss this turnoff as the spur road, which looks like the main road and continues straight, comes to a gated dead end). From this point on the road is in very poor condition. You could conceivably make it in a car, but a high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended. At road mile 14.8 you will see a small pull-out marked by large rocks and a trail that leads about 100 yards into the river. This is a short scenic class II run or an alternate put-in for the Upper Middle. To reach the Dingford Creek trailhead, continue on to the pull- out at road mile 18.6 (just before the road bridge across Dingford Creek). From this pull-out there is a short trail down to a footbridge across the Middle Fork which provides one potential access point. Continue up to Middle Fork Road mile 19.6. Here you'll find a small campsite on the left side of the road and a short drive down to the river on your right. This makes a good access point near the mouth of Wildcat Creek which enters on river left. It takes over an hour to drive to this point from the start of the Middle Fork Road.
This section of the Middle Fork does not appear in any of the guidebooks and it's a bit of a mixed bag with long braided sections but there are some fun class IV rapids if you're willing to make the effort to check them out. This section can be divided into 3 smaller section and starts downstream of the Upper Upper Middle.
Goldmyer to Wildcat Creek, 3.5 miles, 70 feet/mile
After leaving the steep drops of the Upper Upper behind, the river settles down onto the valley floor. This section does not contain any legitimate whitewater; it starts with a short class III section and turns into flat portage hell. The river consists of flat braided sections with difficult portages and you will spend more time walking than boating. The longest distance between must portages is 100 yards, and you'll find it easier to just hike to the road and walk.
Wildcat Creek to Dingford Creek, 1.1 miles, 120 feet/mile
This is a short section of only about a mile in length, but there is some great continuous class IV+ whitewater. Most of the action consists of tight technical boulder gardens with short class III recovery stretches in between. Much of the river is read and run although there are a few spots that require you to get out and make a log check and at least one ledge early on that looks like a little nasty (especially at lower flow) and is a potential portage. To get an idea of what to expect on this section walk down to the river from the Dingford Creek trailhead (about 5 minutes) and take a look at the rapid upstream of the bridge. This rapid is characteristic of the drops in this section. If it looks fun and at a good level then the rest of the run will provide more of the same. You can get down this section and have a good time at flows as low as 800 cfs on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie gauge.
Right after the put in you will come up on the Wildcat confluence and Wildcat Rapids. This section presents a few short drops and a large boulder garden followed up with some class III recovery areas. The next rapid, Lost Key, comes up quick. It starts as you descend into the canyon and should be scouted. Although there may be a sneak at higher levels, the main route through Lost Key has a nasty pin slot that you will want to portage. As you enter the rapid, and work through the first moves youÂll see two drops ahead, the first can be run center right. The second, although it looks inviting should not be run due to the large undercut just below the sight line.
After Lost Key rapids, things turn into a great read and run III/IV boulder gardens. Keep a keen eye out for sieves and wood. The end of this section is the Dingford creek confluence with a long slow drop, and the section ends just around the bend at the final rapid; Dingford Creek bridge drop.
Dingford Creek to Taylor River, 5.7 miles, 40 feet/mile
This section starts with great read and run class III with recovery sections for about two miles. After these sections, it gets much calmer and becomes class II+ water with a section that includes numerous portages. The river becomes enjoyable again for the last couple miles above the Taylor River confluence and this section is definitely worth checking out on sunny days in spring as you will be treated to stunning views of Mt. Garfield. The best way to enjoy this section is probably by taking in these last two miles as a start for the Upper Middle run which adds another fun rapid to this run with the rapid located at the Taylor River confluence.
From the Taylor confluence, the river continues as the Upper Middle run.
with contributions from Paul Harris and Thomas O'Keefe
9 years ago
10 years ago
by Thomas O'Keefe
Testimony in support of Alpine Lakes Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act S. 721.
Testimony in support of Alpine Lakes Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act H.R. 1769.
The Middle Fork Snoqualmie gage is a short distance downstream, but two major tributaries (Pratt and Taylor) come in between this run and the gauge such that actual flows on this reach are approximately 60% of the gauge reading. A reading of about 800 cfs on the Middle Fork gauge is the minimum for this section and levels slightly above this would be good for a first-time run. The high flow cutoff of 1800 is an estimate and has not beeen verified. For a visual inspection walk down to the river at the Middle Fork trailhead and check the rapid that can be seen on the upstream side of the foot bridge.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Canoeing below Mt. Garfield
Rafting on the Middle Fork
Above view of unrunable drop
Below view of unrunable drop
Runnable drop in Lost Key
Below Lost Key
Above Wildcat Creek
Dingford Creek Confluence
Above Lost Key rapids
Rapids below Wildcat Creek
Dingford Creek Bridge Drop
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The U.S. Forest Service has recently initiated a process to develop a Comprehensive River Management Plan for the 27 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and the entirety of the Pratt River that were designated Wild and Scenic in 2014. Paddlers are encourage to provide input online and/or attend the planning workshops planned for October 11th.
In the final days of the 113th Congress, several river conservation measures have been passed designating significant new Wilderness Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers in areas vitally important to the paddling community.
A project that has been talked about for many years is finally getting underway. Western Federal Lands Highway Division awarded a construction contract to pave 9.7 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road. Construction will begin later this spring and continue through August 2016. We have made recent strides in improving river access but additional work remains. Working as part of a coalition we have secured a grant through the National Forest Foundation but it requires matching funds.
Legislative momentum continues to build for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (S. 112, H. R. 361). Following passage of the bill by unanimous consent in the Senate, the House formally took up the legislation with a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee.
Earlier today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray announced that legislation to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and federally designate both the Pratt and stretches of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic has passed the Senate. In addition, legislation designating Illabot Creek in Skagit County as a Wild and Scenic River has also passed the Senate. Both bills await action in the House.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA8) have reintroduced their Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 361/S. 112) along with cosponsors Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA1). This legislation will help ensure the future of some of Washington’s most popular backcountry recreation areas by designating more than 22,000 acres of wilderness adjacent to the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and protecting nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and 10 miles of the Pratt River as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Today Senator Murray and Congressman Reichert re-introduced joint legislation (“Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act") that will help ensure the future of some of Washington’s most popular backcountry recreation areas.
Earlier today legislation passed the House of Representatives to add 10 miles of the Pratt River and nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the National Wild and Scenic River System. Pending action in the Senate this legislation will provide long-term protection for a spectacular whitewater resource.
American Whitewater continues to play a leadership role in efforts to protect the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers through Wild and Scenic River designation, Wilderness designation of the federal lands along the river, and designation of state-managed forest lands as a Natural Resource Conservation Area. Paddlers can take action today to keep these efforts on track.
American Whitewater's Thomas O'Keefe will be testifying in Congress this morning (Thur Nov 5) before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.
Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Dave Reichert, joined by Senator Maria Cantwell and Washington State Congressmen Jay Inslee, Brian Baird, Adam Smith, and Jim McDermott, introduced legislation today in the Senate and House that would expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and designate both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act will expand the existing wilderness by over 22,000 acres to include important lower-elevation lands and complete watersheds.
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