Difficulty II
Length 17 Miles
Flow Range 1000 - 3000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 33 minutes ago 691 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/31/2020 1:31 am

River Description

This is one of the most remote river corridors in the Puget Sound lowlands and one of the few places with more than 10 miles of river uninterrupted by any bridges or riverside development. A few houses are visible high atop the bluffs but otherwise the river is the domain of fish, wildlife, and birds. This legacy of a protected river corridor is the result of the lands being owned by Puget Sound Energy, and efforts are underway to conserve this undeveloped river corridor for future generations.

As a whitewater run the best rapids come in the first 1/3 of the run with plenty of fun class II rapids. Towards the middle 1/3 of the run the river spreads out into channels that shift from year to year along with wood hazards. Because of this wood hazard this is not the best beginner run and you can expect to portage a couple times. The final 1/3 of the run has a slightly more defined channel and some rapids but not quite as frequent as at the start. All along the run high bluffs of glacial outwash sediments record the geologic history of this river valley.

Rapid Descriptions


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1 year ago

Ran the river today 06.28.2019 about 950cfs. Most of the wood is avoidable pretty easily. Two places were mandatory portage but easy to see and walk around the wood. There were several fishing nets and ropes to watch out for. Otherwise a good nice run. We went from Buckley to Auburn (game farm wilderness park) my GPS said it is 15.5 miles. Took us 3 hours and 15 minutes with the two portages and a couple breaks. Very scenic and consistent gradient. There is virtually no flat water on this run.

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David Elliott
1 year ago

Ran this on Jan 21, 2019 at around 1200cfs. There were no real portages, but there were spots where we had to drag over shallow spots because the clean channels petered out. I was pleasantly surprised at how many rapids there were and how there was good gradient from beginning to end.

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Ben Hughey
4 years ago

Floated from Buckley to Auburn on Saturday, July 24 in inflatable kayaks (advanced elements airfusion). No log jams to portage and lots of great scenery. We hitchhike shuttled, which was successful from the take-out up to Hwy 164 and from Enumclaw down to the put-in, but had to resort to the King County Metro Bus 186 (accepts Orca card) between Auburn and Enumclaw. The DOT lot on the north side of the river, west side of Hwy 410 has a locked gate, but there's enough room to pull off the road and unload boats in front of the gate. The treated effluent outflow structure serves as a very convenient dock for entry, just put in upstream! I found this float to be a blast as a beginner paddler. Fairly constant little rapids, with a few splash-you-in-the-face wave trains. Great scenery and wildlife, with very few people. The downed trees added an element of doubt and a few look intimidating, but we were able to paddle past each log jam. We took out just upstream of the R Street/Kersey Way bridge in Auburn, but wouldn't recommend it. Had to haul the boats up a steep pitch and toss over a low fence into Ballard Park. Paddle this river!

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8 years ago

Two of us packrafted this stretch on Sunday, 9/4. Putin at bridge on 410 in Buckley. Takeout was bridge on Kersey Way. Flow was around 800 cfs. The flow was good enough that we hardly hit bottom the whole run. It was a perfect mix of rapids and bird/salmon watching for 2 beginners who have never rafted this stretch. Arguably, the funnest rapid, was just before the takeout of the bridge literally like 100 meters from it. The river constricts and the flow is fast with some good waves. Logs on left, but not an issue. Had so much fun, did it a couple times. The amount of salmon in the river is phenomenal right now. Fish everwhere! Reminds me of movies I see about Alaska rivers. With that, there were also a ton of birds. We must have seen 12 bald eagles. We also saw a bunch of what maybe turkey vultures. Not sure, nonetheless, they were huge and cool to watch. There was one section about halfway through where we portaged around a log crossing the river. I'm not sure if it was passable or not, but knew it wasn't for us. Other than that there were a couple other areas where logs jammed the majority of the river off, but we managed to pass by without an issue. Everything was identifyable early and there was plenty of time to get out of the water to check them out if need be.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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No Accident Reports




article main photo

Washington Dams With Fishery or Recreation Issues

Thomas O'Keefe

Several dams in Washington State have known issues impacting fishery resources or river-based recreation. Some represent partial or complete barriers to fish passage that should be addressed; additionally impacts to geomorphology degrade habitat for fishery resources at many of these dams. In other cases the primary impact of the dam is on river-based recreation where the dam represents a hazard to navigation or public safety. Some of these dams may be candidates for removal while others could be modified to eliminate or reduce impacts. Several successful dam removals are also included in this story map.




Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214097 01/06/20 James updated image position
1215650 07/31/20 James updated stats
1213131 06/29/19 James updated stats
1192860 07/09/04 n/a gage change