Snoqualmie, Middle Fork, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||43 fpm|
|MIDDLE FORK SNOQUALMIE RIVER NEAR TANNER, WA|
|usgs-12141300||1000 - 4000 cfs||III-IV||01h10m||1130 cfs (running)|
|The gauge is located just below Cable Car rapid, and is therefore a pretty good indication of what you will have on this run.|
SEASON: November rains and spring snowmelt. A consistent performer on weeknights late April through early June.
FUN FACT: The most convenient intermediate whitewater to Seattle.
CURRENT ISSUES: Future management of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie is currently being discussed by several regional user groups and agencies. Check MidFORC's web page for the latest news.
LOGISTICS: To get to the river (takeout) take exit 32 off I-90 and go north for 0.6 miles. At the T junction turn right onto North Bend Way and go 0.7 miles. At this point, past the spot where the river runs near the road, turn left onto SE Tanner Road. Take this road down 0.5 miles to a gravel pullout on the right hand side. Powerlines crossing the road and leading down to the river mark the access corridor to the river. There is a gate across the dirt access road that runs along the powerlines to the river (about a 50 yard hike). To get back to the put-in, go back out to North Bend Way and travel 0.2 miles past the boat/rv storage facility and turn left onto SE 140th. Take this 1.1 miles to the left hand turnoff for Middle Fork Rd. Follow this road 3.5 miles to Island Drop (also known as the old Mine Creek Campground) where a bend in the river comes up against the road. This is a good put-in that avoids some of the upstream reach that gets a little boney below 2000 cfs. If you have more time or the water is higher you can continue up to mile 5 where the concrete bridge crosses the river. A put-in is available on the river left side of the bridge.
The river starts out from Concrete bridge through shallow boulder fields that make for good class II rapids above 2000 cfs (you can see a lot of this section from the road on your drive to the put-in). At lower levels things can get a little boney although you can still run from here. The river continues on this easy pace with one clean III- rapid before you reach Island Drop which is a good class III. Take the river right channel around the island and get in line for the play spots at the bottom. Many paddlers come straight to this put-in and a few spend all their time here. It's not the greatest park-and-play spot on the planet, but it's convenient. The waves here are not intimidating and the lack of any significant danger downstream makes this a great place for beginning play boaters to learn.
Dowstream from Island Drop the river alternates between class II boulder gardens and fun class III drops. As you reach A Frame Drop (you'll see the A Frame house high above the river) the gradient starts to pick up as you get closer to House Rocks. You can recognize House Rocks by the long sequence of rapids and a couple of large boulders near the middle of the channel. At the lower range of water levels the drop has two distinct sections with some calmer water in between (first pitch still, second pitch movie). It's not all that more difficult than the preceeding class III drops, but the length of the rapid and the sequence of moves that need to be made to avoid holes make it class IV. At higher levels the drop turns into a freight train of monster waves and powerful hydraulics but some good sneaks develop along the sides for those so inclined. Boat scouting is required as the land along river left and right is privately owned.
After House Rocks, the run begins to taper down with a couple more class III rapids mixed with class II boulder gardens. As the density of homes begins to increase significantly on river left you are nearing the takeout. Look for the powerlines across the river and takeout at the access corridor here (be aware of the private property on either side of this corridor).
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|-56.5||Concrete Bridge (Granite Creek Access)|
|-54.5||First Island Drop||III|
|-50.6||Second Island Drop||III|
|-49.4||Tanner Road Access|
A fun drop on this first section. At the bottom of the rapid just above the cable on river left is the gauge.
First Island Drop is a fun rapid although many folks use this as an alternate put-in. The old Mine Creek Campground runs adjacent to this rapid and is now a day-use site. The island itself is now gone after being largely washed away in the November 2006 floods, and the rapid itself is much easier than it used to be. There used to be a trail down to the pool below the rapid, but the 2007 floods filled it up with trees and removed a lot of the pool, so now people have to walk through the creek and picnic area and put in near the end of the rapid.
Fun options down the left side although the island itself is now gone after being washed away in the November 2006 floods.