Taylor, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||175 fpm|
|virtual-6403||450 - 650 cfs||IV||00h37m||392 cfs (too low)|
SEASON: November rains and spring snowmelt.
FUN FACT: A short hike-in adventure
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 check out this river take exit 33 off I-90 and head north towards the truck stop. The Middle Fork Road (FR 56) turns off to the right within a half mile or so. Follow this road 12 miles and cross the Taylor River bridge. One potential take-out is here at the bridge or at the nearby Middle Fork trailhead. This site is also used as an alternate put-in for those running the Upper Middle who want a more challenging start to their trip. To reach the Taylor put-in, continue past the bridge and on up the road to the left. You will soon come to a dead end. From the parking area, cross the river and hike up along river right. Hike a couple miles and bushwack down to the river.
If there ever was a guide book description that was off, it's the Taylor river in the Bennett Book. John Schaefer and I, looking for something new to paddle set our sights on the Taylor. Some time in June we convened at the take out with our playboats and began hiking. The book said the run was three miles, so we figured we'd just hike till it felt like we had gone that far. The trail starts upriver of Quartz creek at a bridge that takes you to river right where we hiked the rest of the way up. If you put in at this bridge, the guide book description would hold true for the class rating, but the run would be well over two miles short of being a three mile run.
Unfortunately the trail only afforded a few small glimpses of the river on our hike up. Not knowing exactly where to put in, we just hiked till we were sure that we'd be above all the rapids. I think we were about a half mile short of otter falls when we decided to make a short but grueling bushwhack down. The river looked more like a class two brook than a class III river where we put in. After about a mile of easy paddling and a log portage or two, we arrived at rather big horizon line for a "class III" run. A scout revealed a solid Class IV rapid. The shear length of the rapid could have earned it IV+ rating. After the first rapid there were about two more rapids that were definitely class IV or harder. One had a nasty little sieve that you'd never notice without scouting. It had a lot of water going towards it, and if you didn't know it was there, that may be the line you'd choose from up stream. On the other big drop, we portaged the first part because of wood. It too was a long rapid. Then, towards the end of the run, came the biggest surprise of all. A twelve foot ledge that is actually on the Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest website and listed as Lower Taylor Falls. The ledge had a nice line in the middle, but we both walked it. I'd like to have the volume of a creek boat to stay on top of the hole at the bottom. This ledge is just out of sight, up river, when you're crossing the bridge at the beginning of the trail. I could see the other drops getting looked over in the Guide Book, but to not mention this or call it class III is ludicrous. All in all the run was pretty fun. There was fun busy III, good class IV, but just about zero play. It'd be better to just bring your creek boat and feel confident running everything. The Guide book description for this run is the reason they put disclaimers in those books, So take it all with a grain of salt and rely on your judgment and skills when taking on new runs. Class III may not always be Class III. Be cautious no matter what the rating!
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