Spokane - 3. T.J. Menach Bridge in Spokane to Plese Flats (Lower)

Spokane, Washington, US


3. T.J. Menach Bridge in Spokane to Plese Flats (Lower)

Usual Difficulty II-III+ (for normal flows)
Length 6.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 15 fpm

Lower Spokane

Lower Spokane

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12422500 2000 - 30000 cfs II-III+ 00h29m 4010 cfs (running)

River Description

Although it is in the city limits, the Spokane River has a feel of wilderness as the majority of the run goes through Riverside State Park, a 14,000 acre park along the shores of the river. The river cascades over the dramatic Upper and Lower Spokane Falls in the center of downtown Spokane.

The first access downstream of the falls in Peaceful Valley is the start of a four mile float with a few riffles and swift current down to T.J. Menach Bridge. The area around the Sandifur pedestrian bridge, has been considered as the site for a whitewater park. Use caution as you approach the bridge abutments which have resulted in wrapped boats of inattentive paddlers.

From the stanard put-in for the T.J. Menach Bridge, which is the standard put-in for the whitewater run, it is a leisurely float for 1.5 miles. The first small set of waves occurs just around the first left turn. Depending on flows, there are an occasional catch-on-the run playwaves. At the bottom of this rapid there is a unique little playhole us locals call the "poop-hole." So named due to its proximity to the water treatment plant (no poop here!). This can be a fun little warm-up when the level is right (~11,000).

This is followed by more slow water past the treatment plant. There is a utility bridge overhead that has the sign "dangerous rapids ahead - take-out 300 yards." This marks the entry to the campground area of Riverside State park. The take out here is quite far from the first major rapid the "Bowl and Pitcher." There is an access trail on river right and can be used either to take out here or scout the B&P. You are much better off scouting the B&P on the shuttle by entering the campground and going to the suspension walk bridge which puts you right in the middle of the B&P. There are numerous viewpoints around the park to get a feel for this drop. Pay particular attention to river left below the bridge as there is a nasty "room of doom" here that can be lethal at certain flows.

From the overhead utility bridge, more slow moving water as you enter the B&P area. When the water picks up speed, you'll enter a 200 yard wavetrain that at around 6,000 - 9,500 cfs produces a great little surfwave we call the ledge wave. It is on river left about half way through this rapid. There is a small eddy just above a large basalt outcropping and can be used to enter the ledge. Beware that on entering this eddy that the basalt wall is slightly undercut and the currents difficult to judge. (firsthand knowledge)

After this you will flow around a slow right turn and be able to see the suspension bridge. There are numerous waves and occasional holes on entry, so plan ahead at higher flows to work middle to river right to avoid the previously mentioned hazard on river left. At flows above 7500, the bridge wave begins to appear and gets to be quite a large, super fast surf at higher flows. There is a recovery eddy below the bridge on river right. Below the viewpoint lookout above you, there is a nice playhole depending on flow.

The river then makes a sharp right turn and enters slower moving water for 1/4 mile. The next turn left you'll come to another wavetrain that is straight forward, yielding an occasional surf wave also caught on the run. Halfway through this rapid, there is another red warning sign. The current slows on its' approach to the next major rapid, the "Devil's Toenail." This can also be scouted on the shuttle by using the pullout 1 mile below the campground. The run is typically on the right, but can be run middle or left depending on skill, flows. Beware of the large hole that takes up the river left above 15000cfs!

There is a slight break then more waves and holes that again can be great fun depending on flows for the next 1/3 mile. At flows above 20,000 cfs, beware of what I like to call "CYCLOPS"! This nasty hole is barely discernable from above if you are leisurely floating the middle of the river. There is only a small deceptive pillow wave before it drops into this horrendo reversal. At normal flows (<10,000cfs), "Cyclops" is a large basalt island that sits 6-8 feet out of the water and provides a fun squirtin' spot in its' eddies. See the photo of "Cyclops". HOWEVER, at certain higher flows, this hole becomes one super large, relatively surfable wave/hole (see pics). Sadly, there is no eddy service for this feature, it may take 1/4 mile to find suitable exit and the hike/put-in requires some effort.

From here to the rifle club is slow water, then a set of small waves below the rifle club. From here to the takeout, sit back and enjoy the wildlife. Eagles, osprey, blue heron, beaver and deer can be seen if you're lucky. The takeout is on river right 2 miles below the 'Toenail.


There are several access points for this run from sites in downtown Spokane all the way to Nine Mile Dam. The standard run is T.J. Menach Bridge to Plese Flats but here are the access points from upstream to downstream.

Peaceful Valley: In downtown Spokane the first access downstream of the dramatic Spokane Falls is Peaceful Valley Park under the Maple Street Bridge. Drive to the end of West Water Avenue where you will find good low beach access to the river. Don't block the gate.

T.J. Menach Bridge: A recently developed parking area with river access just downstream of the T.J.Menach bridge on river right. This is a gated lot that is opened by the Spokane Parks department and was a cooperative effort by the city and the boating community.

Disc Golf Course: This access point is used by kayakers as a put-in closer to the start of the best whitewater. Park at the pull-out at the start of the Aubrey L. White Parkway and walk down to the river.

Poop Plant Access: Access at the downstream end of the sewage treatment plant has a rough ramp. This access serves as a take-out for those who just want a class II float or a put-in for those who want a short run that includes the two class III rapids.

Bowl and Pitcher: River access is not available in Riverside State Park's Bowl and Pitcher Area but you can park in the day use area and hike across the suspension bridge to scout the rapids.

Plese Flats: The Plese Flats Day Use Area in Riverside State Park is the standard take-out where the slackwater of the reservoir begins. In addition to river access, it is a picnic area and there are restrooms. Be mindful of closing time when park staff shut the gate. To reach this site you drive along the north side of the river on the Aubrey L. White Parkway in Riverside State Park past the campground and rifle club.

Nine Mile Dam: A new access at Nine Mile Dam on the south side of the reservoir near the dam was recently constructed to provide an option for flatwater paddlers who want to boat from Plese Flats down to the dam.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-18 16:21:11


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-74.0Spokane FallsN/AHazard Waterfall Photo
-73.2Peaceful Valley AccessN/AAccess Photo
-68.1Disc Golf Course AccessN/AAccess Photo
-67.1Poop Plant AccessN/AAccess Photo
-66.2Bowl and PitcherIIIPhoto
-65.2Devil's ToenailIIIPhoto
-58.0Ninemile DamN/AAccess Hazard Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Spokane Falls (Class N/A, Mile -74.0)

Lower Spokane Falls

Lower Spokane Falls
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/21/07 @ 9600 cfs

Dramatic waterfall in downtown Spokane harnessed for hydropower. No access at the base of the falls so you will need to use one of the access points downstream.

Peaceful Valley Access (Class N/A, Mile -73.2)

Peaceful Valley Access

Peaceful Valley Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/02/16 @ 5500 cfs

This is an alternate put-in and the furthest upstream in downtown Spokane under the Maple Street Bridge.

Disc Golf Course Access (Class N/A, Mile -68.1)

Disc Golf Access

Disc Golf Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/02/16 @ 5500 cfs

This is a good intermediate access used by kayakers that gives you a couple class II rapids before you approach the pool plant.

Poop Plant Access (Class N/A, Mile -67.1)

Poop Plant Access

Poop Plant Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/02/16 @ 5500 cfs

This access serves as a take-out for those who just want a class II float or a put-in for those who want a short run that includes the two class III rapids.

Bowl and Pitcher (Class III, Mile -66.2)

Bowl and Pitcher

Bowl and Pitcher
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/02/16 @ 5500 cfs

Stay to the right and avoid the stuff on far river left.

Devil's Toenail (Class III, Mile -65.2)

Devil's Toenail

Devil's Toenail
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/02/16 @ 5500 cfs

The conservative line is river right but watch out for holes. Additional slots between the boulders depending on flows and wood hazards. Some fun playboating can be found in this rapid.

Ninemile Dam (Class N/A, Mile -58.0)

Nine Mile Dam

Nine Mile Dam
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 06/02/16 @ 5500 cfs

Ninemile Dam, constrcuted in 1908, backs up a reservoir that extends upstream to Plese Flat which is the take-out for the whitewater run. Flatwater paddling is an option from the standard take-out down the reservoir to the dam.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 30 2013 (2028 days ago)
leafsleave (154628)
Ran this on 5/12/13, river was around 17-18,000. Put in at the end of W. Water Ave., just west of
Glover Field. 14' raft with 4 adults and 4 kids. Fast and fun with lots of big pushy water in the
rapids. Great family trip, although next time I'd restrict it to 8yrs and older, at least at this
water level. Bowl and Pitcher and Devil's Toenail were both fun and easy taking the conservative
river right line. Ran it a couple days later in a IK. Also fun and pushy. Next time I'll drive
harder into the big waves for more excitement.

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