SEASON: November to May with heavy rainfall.
FUN FACT: Great run when things are pumping. A fallback option when other runs
are too high.
ACCESS: At Highway 101 mile 339.5 turn west on to Skokomish Valley Road.
Follow this road 5.7 miles until a turnoff up the hill to the right on FR 23. Follow it 2.6
miles and turn left on FR 2341. This will wind down the hill 1.3 miles to the takeout bridge
across the creek. To reach the put-in head back up to FR 23 and continue west for
another 1.7 miles to the FR 2350 turnoff (you'll see a triangular-shaped grass strip here).
FR 2350 winds along the ridge high above the river. It's 3.8 miles to a small and
somewhat overgrown pull-out that marks the trail down the put-in (if you reach the turn-off
for spur road 120 then you've gone a little bit too far). It's an old road grade that cuts
down through the forest a couple hundred yards. As evidence of the road disappears
head to your right down a steep gully. It's a muddy and steep scramble down to the river
that will require some rope. Check road conditions on the Olympic National Forest
website (below). See Korb's book for the story of locating this put-in where he says,
"you'll probably do some whining about the put-in, but trust me it's the best access
this fine run".
The put-in described appears to be the only practical access to this creek until you
reach the take-out bridge so once you're down on the creek you're committed. The rapids
are mostly straight-forward and fairly user friendly but you need to constantly be on your
toes for wood hazards. Korb describes a low-water run (250 cfs) where they tried an
alternate put-in further upstream, but they encountered a 10' falls leading into a 35'
waterfall that was impossible to scout from above and nearly impossible to portage.
The river starts out with some grungy rapids and a few big strainers, but just as
you're starting to wonder if the run is going to get any better the pace starts to pick and
the drops clean-up. Most of the river is read-and-run although you'll find several places
where at least one person will need to get out and check for wood around blind-corners.
Although logging up on the ridges continues at a frenzied pace, there are some big old-
growth trees along the river that provide a constant supply of wood to the creek. While
much of the run is continuous class III+ with several good class IV sections, the log
hazards and remote nature of the run requires that boaters have solid class IV paddling
skills. The best whitewater ends as you pass under the high railroad bridge and through
the last main rapid just downstream. It's only a few short paddle strokes to the take-out.
of typical drop on the run.
lat/long very approximate by tiger map server and have not been
verified in the field
for additional information see:
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
Actual flows on Vance Creek are
approximately 1/3 of the reading on the South
Fork Skokomish gauge.
Vance Creek (25 square miles) joins the South
Fork (76 sqaure miles at the gauge) just
downstream of the gauge station. For a nice
level of about 600 cfs on Vance Creek you will
thus want approximately 1800 cfs on the South
Fork. At this level, mid-stream rocks upstream
of the take-out bridge will be covered. A level
of 350 cfs on Vance Creek (1050 cfs on the
South Fork) is about the minimum but still fun.
At this level some mid-stream rocks just
upstream of the takeout bridge will not quite be
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The extensive road network in Olympic National Forest has deteriorated over the last few years with the reduction in logging intensity and corresponding lack of routine maintenance. The road failures have resulted in destruction of aquatic habitat and reduced access. Repair work and decommissioning has begun with the introduction of a new road management plan in fall 2002.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!