Wallace, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||II (for normal flows)|
You've probably seen the Wallace River as you drive to the Skykomish and wondered what it was like. The rapid you can see from Hwy 2 as you near Startup is one of the biggest on the Wallace, so that will give you an idea of the character of the whitewater.
Despite the fact that the river goes through two towns, it feels very remote. There are a few houses near the river at places, but most of the river winds through wooded areas. The rapids are easy, but there can be a lot of logs. On a trip in May 2006, we encountered a half-dozen minor jams that we were able to either slide over or around, and one portage near the beginning of the run. There was also a completely-submerged car near the Hwy 2 bridge. Another hazard, particularly in the last couple of miles, is fishing lures in tree branches - stay away from overhanging trees and watch for dangling lines.
The full run ends at the mouth of the Sultan River. This means that you will be paddling the last mile or so on the Skykomish and then paddling up into the Sultan. As of May 2006, this was not difficult to do. Both confluences were clean and did not have high eddy fences even with the Skykomish at over 14000cfs. However, the last mile of the Wallace is wide and slow, so it's worth considering a shorter run by taking out at the roadside park in Startup.
To reach the put-in, take Hwy 2 to the turnoff for Wallace Falls Park in Goldbar, and follow the signs to the park. As you near the park, you will bear left onto a dead end road, and soon reach a bridge over the river. The land here is privately owned, so scramble down to the river next to the bridge (there is riprap here, so be careful). You can park off the pavement on the river left side of the bridge, or drive up to Wallace Falls Park and take the long walk back.
The takeout for the full run is at the mouth of the Sultan River in Sultan. The alternate takeout is at the roadside park in Startup, on the right side of Hwy 2 as you travel East. You can view the river from this point.
Data based on National Park Service Study