SEASON: November rains and spring snowmelt. A consistent performer on weeknights late April through early June.
FUN FACT: One of the most scenic river trips easily accessible as a day trip from the Seattle area.
LOGISTICS: To reach the river take exit 34 off I-90 and head north on 468th Ave. past the truck stop. The Middle Fork Road (FR 56) turns off to the right in 0.5 miles. Continue up this road to mile 5 and the Granite Creek Access (aka Concrete Bridge), which is on the downstream river left side of the bridge. This site is the traditional division between the Upper and Middle runs, but many paddlers looking to spend more time on the Upper Middle's best rapids will continue upstream to Russian Butte View access which serves as an alternate take-out. This site is at mile 8 on DNR land just before you reach the Forest Service boundary at a point where the river comes up along the road, and a short distance downstream of the Pratt River confluence. This access can also be used as a put-in for those who want to start their trip here and then continue down on the easier first section of the Middle-Middle, taking out above First Island Drop (this run is known as "The Mupper" - make sure to scout the takeout, as the access below First Island Drop is full of trees).
For the put-in, you can continue up to mile 10.2 and a site known as Riverbend where the river runs up along the road at an unimproved camp site. This alternative puts you in downstream of Rainy Creek Rapid. For those interested in the full run, continue up to mile 11.3 and a small pull-out along the river known as Bridge View just before the turn into the Middle Fork Trailhead. The Forest Service has asked paddlers to use this site instead of parking at the trailhead and scrambling under the foot bridge. The Bridge View access is suitable for either rafts or kayaks. If you want to put in a couple miles higher and enjoy the incredible backdrop provided as you paddle past Mt. Garfield this is also an option (it also adds one more fun rapid at the Taylor River confluence). Continue up the Middle Fork Road road to mile 12 where you will cross the Taylor River and within 100 yards the Middle Fork Road continues by turning off to the right where it 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 poor condition but accessible by car. At mile 14.8 on this road you will see a pull-out marked by large rocks and a trail that leads into the river about 100 yards. This is a relatively new river access following purchase of this property by the Cascade Land Conservancy and transfer of the land to the Forest Service in 2006.
DESCRIPTION: This is a fun little run with beautiful mountain views. The rapids are not particularly difficult, but there are a lot of them and the current is always moving.
There are a couple of rapids that go right into headwalls. At higher flows, you can run these rapids far right and avoid the headwalls altogether. If you run the main wavetrain, avoid the instinct to try to paddle right at the bottom to avoid the headwall, as you will just get stuck in a huge eddy line and flip like I always do!
The action starts to taper off a bit once you pass the Pratt River confluence but many continue on downstream to Concrete Bridge. You can also extend the run even further by continuing on the first part of the Middle-Middle and taking out below First Island Drop at the old DNR Mine Creek Campground. This adds 3 great class III rapids, as well as some long, sweeping class II+ rapids, and the takeout is no harder than the one at the Concrete Bridge.
with contributions from David Elliott
A couple boulders make a fun rapid just downstream of the Taylor River confluence. You can put in above the Taylor River or on the Taylor River itself to take in this drop.
This headwall rapid comes up just downstream of the put-in where the river pushes up against a bedrock wall. Stay right to continue downstream, splat the wall, or go left to circle into the "room of doom" eddy.
A fun headwall rapid and probably the most challenging drop on this section.
Testimony in support of Alpine Lakes Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act H.R. 1769.
Concept plan identifying river access issues, needs, and recommendations for improvements to ensure the public has dedicated access to the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River in Washington.
Testimony in support of Alpine Lakes Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act S. 721.
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Rafting on the Middle Fork
Safety Talk at Bridgeview
Launching at Bridgeview
Gathering for a river talk
The Put In
Upper Middle Fork
Parking at Russian Butte View
Middle Fork Trailhead Sign
Middle Fork Campground
Russian Butte View
Taylor River Rapid
Russian Butte View Access
Rainy Creek Rapid
Upper Middle from Garfield Ledges
Rafting the Upper Middle
This is one of the more challenging drops on the Upper Middle where the river fl
Bridge View River Access
Russian Butte River Trail, after
Russian Butte River Trail, before
Russian Butte View parking, after
Russian Butte View parking, before
Upper Middle from take-out
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.
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.
After a 7 year hiatus the project to upgrade the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road is back on track and Federal Highways has just announced that they will be hosting an open house in North Bend next week (Tue Dec 7, 5-7pm at USFS North Bend Ranger Station). American Whitewater has supported this project to address the ongoing maintenance issues that result in regular road closures. Boaters are encouraged to attend and speak to the value of access to this river for whitewater recreation.
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.
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.
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