Suiattle - 2. Rat Trap (FR 25) Bridge to Sauk River

Suiattle, Washington, US


2. Rat Trap (FR 25) Bridge to Sauk River

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 12.7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 30 fpm

Coyote Crossing

Coyote Crossing
Photo of Emma Johnson by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 11/15/15 @ 0 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12188380 1400 - 3000 cfs II-III 284d07h29m 394 cfs (too low)

River Description

This is a great run with a long season that has been enjoyed by river cruisers for over half a century. Wolf Bauer, founder of the Washington Kayak Club and a co-founder of American Whitewater, recognized the spectacular conservation opportunity of this free-flowing river and it was protected as part of Washington's first Wild and Scenic River designation in 1978.

The low elevation of this run means you can enjoy the river throughout the winter after rain and the season can extend well into summer on snowmelt when other nearby rivers are getting too low. Most of the run flows through private and state land--the Boundary Bridge roughly marks the boundary of the National Forest which is upstream of the bridge--but the river corridor is undeveloped and protected as a Wild and Scenic River. The river banks have been logged in the past but recovered nicely in the decades since and it is now one of the most scenic river tours in Western Washington.

Winter storms and an unconstrianed floodplain means this river is continually transporting large trees through the system. Be prepared for wood to be in play anywhere along the run as massive log jams can build up over years and then suddenly disappear in a high water event with the pieces reassembling downstream. For the most part the river is wide enought that channel-spanning log jams are unlikely but there are a few sections where the river is more braided and wood can block a particular route.

The run has lots of good class II-III whitewater and some fun play spots here and there. If you're looking for an endless supply of big wave trains check this run out after a healthy winter rain or after several days of hot weather just after peak flows on the Sauk have passed. Two distinct class III rapids of note include Coyote Crossing followed by Hurricane. Coyote Crossing is one of the most scenic sections of the run where tall trees tower above the river on both banks. Hurricane is the longest rapid on the run.

The run ends as the Suiattle joins the Sauk River and it's a five minute float from the confluence down to the take-out just below the Highway 530 Bridge on river left.

While most enjoy this run as a day trip (approximately 2 hours on high flows or 4 hours on lower flows), you could also add a portion of the run upstream of this one to your trip and even do it as an overnight. If you do camp on the river please follow good leave-no-trace practices and keep it clean for the next group.


Follow Highway 530 about 15 minutes north out of Darrington to the bridge across the Sauk River at Highway 530 mile 56.1. The take-out is on the Sauk River on the downstream river left side of this bridge.

To reach the put-in head east across the bridge and at Highway 530 mile 56.5 and within sight of the bridge take the turn-off for Suiattle River Road (FR 26). Continue on this road to mile 10.0 and turn on to FR 25 which dips down to the river at bridge crossing. This is the Boundary Bridge (aka Rat Trap Bridge) which is the put-in for the run. The Forest Service has an easement that extends 33' on either side from the centerline from the bridge. Despite the no trespassing signs you may see on the trees, you can access the river on the upstream river right side of the bridge and still be well within this public easement. Parking is very limited here however and the parcels immeidately upstream and downstream of the bridge are private property. For the most recent road and river information check the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest web site (check forest road conditions for Darrington District), or call the Darrington Ranger District at (360) 436-1155 .

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-11-18 06:29:10

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-9.6Tenas Creek AccessN/AAccess Photo
-8.1Coyote CrossingIIIPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Tenas Creek Access (Class N/A, Mile -9.6)

Tenas Creek Access

Tenas Creek Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 01/13/15 @ 1510 cfs

Identified as a potential access point in the river management plan but currently undeveloped.

Coyote Crossing (Class III, Mile -8.1)

Coyote Crossing

Coyote Crossing
Photo of Emma Johnson by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 11/15/15 @ 0 cfs

Hurricane (Class III, Mile -7.5)


Photo of Emma Johnson and Omar Jepperson by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 11/15/15 @ 0 cfs

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 29 2016 (723 days ago)
kellyj99 (156642)
As of July 26 2016 the river wide logs were cut and there are no river wide hazards on this run
July 6 2016 (746 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
A group of us ran the Suiattle on July 3. About a mile below Rat Trap Bridge, there is a river-wide
logjam. We had a little over 3000 cfs in the Suiattle (subtracting the flow of the Sauk at
Darrington from the Sauk at Sauk gauge). At that flow, most of the kayaks could duck under the
right log easily. At lower flows it should be easier, but rafts will need to portage.
July 17 2007 (4023 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
As of July 2007, the road is open with a detour around the washout at mile 6. At higher flows,
there are no problems with logs - the bottom section is surprisingly clean and has very few braids.
At lower flows, there may be some blocked channels in the first couple of miles, but you should
have plenty of warning. The put-in at Rat Trap Bridge is now completely different from the photo.
Logs piled up at the far end of what is left of the bridge, and pushed the channel to the right.
The put-in is now at the base of the bridge on river right. Note that in the summer there are
people who use the bridge for camping (at least until the commercial groups annoy them enough to
wisen them up).
September 5 2006 (4338 days ago)
Mark LesterDetails
Ran this section 9/4/2006. A lot of fun with an IK but
wouldn't suggest using a hard shell due to shallow
water. All but one feature had lines clear of wood and
easy to boat scout except one: When you see a land
slide on river left (trees laying down on the hill) get
out and scout. A log blocks the only entrance deep
enough to run the upper portion of the rapid. We
portaged and put in just above the main part of the
drop. The last few miles are butt-scootchin' with a lot
of paddling. Definitely worth the trip. *Sauk at Sauk
was 1300 cfs*.

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