Wynoochee - Wynoochee Reservoir to Save Creek

Wynoochee, Washington, US


Wynoochee Reservoir to Save Creek (Wynoochee Gorge)

Usual Difficulty II-III(V) (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 22 fpm

Wynoochee River

Wynoochee River
Photo by Pat Maxwell

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12035400 220 - 800 cfs II-III(V) 00h36m 209 cfs (too low)

River Description

FUN FACT: Opportunities for an overnight trip during the summer.

SEASON: Best November to May, but typically possible throughout the year due to consistent release from the reservoir.


Wynoochee Dam to Hatchery Dam, Upper Gorge (2.2 miles, class II+)
The Dam to Dam run starts out with a couple class II rapids and then enters an impressive gorge which has been partially flooded by the fish collection dam. This is a class II+ run because of the wood in the water, but there is not much in the way of rapids. There are numerous places where beginners especially, and even more advanced paddlers, must walk around the strainers. It can be done as low as 210 CFS, but involves a little dragging of open boats at that level.

Fish Collection Dam to FR 220 Spur (3.8 miles, class I/II)
The river meanders along at a mellow pace. There are potential campsites on Forest Service land in this area for those who come for an overnight trip.

FR 220 Spur access to Save Creek gauge, Lower Gorge (5.4 miles, class III(V))
This is basically a class III run, except for one rapid, "Landslide," which should be treated as a Class V because of its remoteness and the fact that it changes with flow and has a tendency to collect wood.

Chris Joosse says, on Boater Talk: "Often there's wood in Landslide and it's one of those drops with committing lines, and places not to be- ...and there's the fact that you can't see the whole drop until you're in it (it rounds a corner).
"As far as difficulty goes... the drop varies a lot with flow. As far as consequences go, there are a couple of "bad" spots to avoid... sieves and such. At low flow it's trashy and pinny, at medium flow it cleans up a lot and starts to get pushy, at large flow it's likely really clean but full of nice big holes...
"I don't know that I'd rate it a bona fide V, (I thought it was an IV for difficulty at 500) but I'd certainly treat it as such- it's very remote and rocks like those tend to be slightly evil if they get you where you don't want to be. I'd rate it as more dangerous at low water than I would at high water, based solely on the pin factor. Also, with the amount of wood you can reasonably expect in any river on the peninsula (this rapid begins on a blind turn in a canyon, for those of us who haven't been there), this drop always bears scouting.
"There are several lines through Landslide, if I recall--I liked the 'start right and work to middle-left and then back right again' line--and that hole halfway down on river right was a screamer. :-)"

Ty adds: "The class III paddler who runs the Wynoochee should be prepared for a tough portage on the left and bring a little rope to help get the boats over."

An interesting piece of history on this run is the train wreck from the movie Ring of Fire.

Save Creek gauge to Bob's Bridge, Lower Wynoochee (10.3 miles, class I/II)
While there is no whitewater to speak of in this stretch it is still a beautiful section of river and has long been a popular canoe trip.


You have a few different options for this run (see shuttle map). From Highway 12 mile post 11 take the Devonshire Rd. exit and head north on Wynoochee River Road. The pavement on this roller coaster of a road ends at mile 17. Along the way there are a couple fishing access points popular with drift boaters (one at mile 3 at the Geissler Road bridge). Continuing on, the first access point commonly used by paddlers is Bob's Bridge (Note: this is a timber company bridge that does not appear on public road maps). The bridge itself is gated and closed, but it makes a good takeout for the Lower Wynoochee run (at river mile 30.1). To reach it, turn west off of FR 22 about 4.8 miles from where the pavement ends. This will be about 0.3 miles south of mile marker "5" on FR 22. Follow the most heavily used route 2.9 miles until you come to the bridge. You will cross a tributary creek in the first mile. There is one place where you must bear hard left and you will pass several spur roads, but you can easily see the main route.

To reach the put-in for this lower run or the take-out for the Lower Gorge run, continue on 12 miles beyond the pavement end. You will pass the turn-off to the right for FR 2266 (aka Simpson 600). You will then cross Save Creek within 0.2 miles and in another 0.2 miles you will reach the turn-off to the left for the Simpson O-600 Rd (important note: this gate may be closed during periods of fire danger and if private lands are abused--problems with timber theft have led to closures). Take this road 0.15 miles across a stream and turn left on the Simpson O-602 Rd. You'll pass a couple spur roads and then reach a Y junction in 1.7 miles. Take the left fork down the hile and continue another 0.3 miles to a trail that leads straight down to the river (river mile 40.4). The road takes you within sight of the river and it's about a 250 foot climb from the river to the road along the trail which is about 4 feet wide, and although it's steep it's a good trail. Although there is not much of any whitewater beyond this point, paddlers who use this as a put-in can continue through private forest land and take advantage of opportunities for an overnight trip. To do this you will need a permit from Simpson Resource Company. Contact Patti Case <pcase@simpson.com>, chair of Simpson's Land Use Committee, for information and plan at least a couple weeks in advance.

To reach access points upstream, head back out to FR 22 and follow it upriver to the north. In 2.3 miles you will pass a National Forest sign and 2.3 miles after that FR 22 makes a hard turn to the left as FR 23 continues on straight and to the right. Stay on FR 22 and in 0.3 miles you will come to a three-way junction. FR 2294 heads off the right and 0.8 miles down this road you'll find the access to the uppermost put-in at the base of Wynoochee Dam as it crosses the river just downstream of the dam (river mile 51.8). There is a parking lot on river left on the north side of the road. The access to the river is a spur from FR 2294 that heads south from opposite the parking lot. Although this road is normally gated, those who have planned ahead have arranged for the dam operator to unlock the gate. It's a relatively short walk if the gate is locked.

For the middle access points, head back to the three-way junction and take FR 22 to the west 1.7 miles to the bridge across the river at the collection dam (river mile 49.6). You will pass the old FR 220 spur which used to provide access to Anderson Bar (river mile 45.8), but the road is no longer maintained and is now gated.The fish collection dams is the preferred take-out access for the Upper Gorge run that starts at Wynoochee Dam. You can take-out or put-in at the dam on river right . You will need to portage if you started upstream and are continuing on downstream.

Another option for this river is to start out with a 2 mile run on Big Creek.

For current information on roads check the Olympic National Forest web site (check rec reports for Hood Canal District - South) or call (360) 877-5254, and for the current situation with the take-out check with the Shelton Office for Simpson Resource Company which can be reached by calling (360) 427-4733.

for additional information see

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-10-29 02:47:41

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-49.6Fish Collection DamN/AAccess Portage
-30.2Bob's Bridge AccessN/AAccess
-16.0Old White Bridge SiteN/AAccess
0.0Friends LandingN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Bob's Bridge Access (Class N/A, Mile -30.2)

Bob's Bridge where the 7400 road crosses the river.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
November 6 2008 (3604 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
The FR 22-220 spur that provided access to Anderson Bar is no longer maintained and is now gated.
Access to the gorge run is available at the fish collection dam about 4 miles upstream.

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