Snoqualmie, N. Fork - 1. Big Creek to Spur 10 Bridge (Upper)


Snoqualmie, N. Fork, Washington, US

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1. Big Creek to Spur 10 Bridge (Upper)

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 6.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm

NF Snoqualmie


NF Snoqualmie
Photo of Chris Tretwold by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 05/30/04 @ 1800 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
NF SNOQUALMIE RIVER NEAR SNOQUALMIE FALLS, WA
usgs-12142000 600 - 1200 cfs III 00h29m 1320 cfs (too high)


River Description

Note: As of 2012, you must buy a permit to access the put-in and take-out, even on foot. The walk-in permit is $75. The drive-in permit is $225, but you can not take anyone else in your vehicle unless they are a member of your immediate family (husband, wife, and children under 18). 

This was a fun class III run that was once very popular when you could drive down to the take-out. The river has also hosted the North Fork Slalom Race and racer training clinics. Restrictions to access have made this a less popular run which is unfortunate because it is one of the best beginner-intermediate runs less than an hour from downtown Seattle. The run provides a bit more excitement and a longer trip than the Club Stretch or Powerhouse runs, but is slightly easier than the Middle-Middle. As such, it is the perfect stepping stone for those looking for a new challenge after successfully navigating the area beginner runs.

The character of the run is nearly continuous boulder garden rapids with a couple of short bedrock canyon sections. Be sure that you don't put in at the Wagner Bridge (where you park for the put-in) as a class V+ rapid awaits just downstream. Instead hike along the road on river left and put-in below the first rapid at an access of your choosing. You can scramble down to paddle the run- out below the big drop (photo) or continue to an easier put-in a short distance downriver.

The run maintains a consistent character for nearly the entire length with continuous class II/III separated by several class III rapids. Even at high flows, the river remains manageable for intermediate paddlers and doesn't contain any drops that stand out as signficantly more challenging than the others. Although there are a few sections of constrained bedrock, much of the river bed is characterized by more open gravel bar sections that aren't as fun at the lower range of flows.

The take-out is at the only bridge you'll come to and since this road also serves private inholders with cabins, you will likely see some traffic on the road. To bring your vehicle down however, you need a key and a pass so unless you're a small group and happen to see an empty pick-up driving past, you can plan on hiking out. Note that the challenging rapids of Ernie's Canyon start a short distance downstream of this bridge. At one time there was an alternate access downstream of this bridge that allowed you to paddle class III/IV Hancock Rapid but still take out before the start of Ernie's Canyon; unfortunately the private logging road to this site is not currently open to the public.

Logistics

To reach the river, head north on Ballarat Ave. in the town of North Bend (one block east of the main intersection in town). Just follow Ballarat Ave. which will bend to the right and become SE 108th St. and bend to the left where it becomes 428th. St. In 2.0 miles from the turn onto Ballarat you will cross the Middle Fork, in 2.4 miles you will cross the North Fork, and after 3.9 miles you will reach a Y and the turn for North Fork Road that heads up the hill to the left. Continue up this road which becomes a dirt road and after 5.4 miles you will reach a 4-way intersection at the Spur 10 gate. The take-out is just over a mile down the hill to the right (you will likely need to hike up to this point after the completion of your run although it is sometimes possible to catch a ride with one of the private inholders). To reach the put-in, continue straight through 6.5 miles to the Wagner Bridge across the North Fork. Park near the bridge and hike down the logging road on river left a couple hundred yards, making sure to put in below the class V drop which is just downstream of the bridge and at the confluence with Big Creek which comes in from river left.

The current vehicle access policy complicates the logistics. At one time you could just borrow a key from the Weyerhaeuser mill but then you had to purchase an access permit and could only drive to the take-out when someone was at the gate. Local paddlers had hoped for an opportunity to negotiate improved access with the recent pending sale to Evergreen Forest Trust, but that deal fell through and now the land is owned by Hancock Timber Resource Group. You can call Hancock for the current access policy (360-825-1637).


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-07-24 19:54:01

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 26 2017 (236 days ago)
shanna (150424)
Ran this 2/19/17 - 630cfs No new wood to report. Access changes. At the put-in we parked at
latitude N47.63895 and longitude W121.69004. it was right along the road on river right, there were
no signs saying we couldn't access the river. It was also located downriver of the class V drop
they talk about, we never saw it while looking upstream. We took out on the upstream side of the
Spur 10 bridge on river left and this is when you need the permit which you can order online. It's
a one day pass and the process is automated, once you pay for your permit, it comes pretty quickly
via email which you can print and then use the same day. It's $8 per person. Details for the permit
can be found at www.sqrecreation.com
June 13 2011 (2321 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
As of June 2011, there is a river-wide log about a half mile into the run. It comes just past the
end of an island. The usual route is the right channel (especially at flows under 1000 cfs), and
this is the side that makes getting around the log difficult. If you can see it soon enough, you
can run the left channel where there is an easy portage. The rest of the run is relatively clean,
but that can change.
July 7 2008 (3393 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
As of 7/7/2008, there is a log across the river around 1 mile into the run, just as the rapids
start to get into the class III range. You can see it from the top of the rapid, and there is room
around it on the far right for kayaks. Don't let the hike-out deter you from doing this run if you
get a reasonable flow. It's a hike, but it's not horrible.


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Associated Projects

  • Greenway Whitewater (WA)
    The Mountains to Sound Greenway stretches over 100 miles along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Central Washington. AW is engaged in promoting stewardship and protection of the rivers in this corridor.
  • North Fork Snoqualmie- WA
    American Whitewater is committed to the conservation of the North Fork Snoqualmie.