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. At one time the second half of this road was dirt but it is now a paved county road all the way to the dam.
Those looking for a flatwater paddle can use the access points from the mouth at river mile 0 up to Save Creek near river mile 40. The gorge, and the primary whitewater, is in the reach from Anderson Bar near river mile 46 down to Save Creek.
Black Creek Boat Launch, river mile 5.5: upstream river left of the Geissler Road bridge mile 2.9 on Wynochee River Road.
Old White Bridge, river mile 16.0: Take Wynoochee River road to mile 11.3 [double check mile marker] and turn west on the spur down to the site of the Old White Bridge.
Bob's Bridge, river mile 30.1: American Whitewater supported the effort to make this informal access on Green Diamond land a formal WDFW water access site. It was opened in 2018. At mile 21.3 on Wynoochee River road turn west on the Green Diamond 7400 road. Follow this road 2.2 miles (you will cross a tributary at mile 1) and then turn left following the WDFW water access sign. This access road heads 1.1 mile down to the river and an access point at a gravel bar.
Save Creek, river mile 40.4: This is the traditional take-out for the gorge or the put-in for the canoe run down to Bob's Bridge. At Wynoochee River road mile 28.7 (0.2 miles after crossing Save Creek), turn west on FR 2266 (aka Simpson 600). This road may be gated during periods of fire danger and if private lands are absued--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. 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>, chair of Simpson's Land Use Committee, for information and plan at least a couple weeks in advance.
Anderson Bar, river mile 45.8: This access has been blocked for several years but was the preferred put-in at the start of the gorge. Resource issues associated with the ford of Anderson Creek and lack of road maintenance led to the closure. On Wynoochee River Road mile 33.3 (2.3 miles past the Forest Service boundary sign where it becomes FR 22) turn west to stay on FR 22 (the road continuing straight is FR 23) [double check mileage]. From this turn, follow FR 22 1.7 miles to the river. The 2200-220 spur to Anderson bar is on the left just before you cross the Wynoochee.
Fish Collection Dam, river mile 49.6: This is the best practical access for the Wynoochee Gorge. On Wynoochee River Road mile 33.3 (2.3 miles past the Forest Service boundary sign where it becomes FR 22) turn west to stay on FR 22 (the road continuing straight is FR 23). From this turn, follow FR 22 1.7 miles to the river. The collection dam is visible on the downstream side of the bridge. Put-in below it.
Wynoochee Dam, river mile 51.8: On Wynoochee River Road mile 33.3 (2.3 miles past the Forest Service boundary sign where it becomes FR 22) turn west to stay on FR 22 (the road continuing straight is FR 23). From this turn, follow FR 22 0.3 miles to a right turn onto FR 2294 (follow the signs to Coho Campground). At 0.8 mile down FR 2294 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. Parking is available on river left on the north side of the road. The access to the river is a spur from FR 2294-010 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
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
Bob's Bridge is a WDFW water access site downstream of where the 7400 road crosses the river.
10 years ago
by Thomas O'Keefe
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
Support letter for public access at Bob's Bridge
Wynoochee USGS gauge above Save Creek right at the take-out. This gorge run is dam controlled and rarely drops below 200 cfs which is just enough to get down.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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ring of fire train wreckage
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.
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