Difficulty II+(III)
Length 3.5 Miles
Flow Range 1000 - 3000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 23 minutes ago 162 [CFS]
Next Release
Reach Info Last Updated 10/15/2019 9:18 pm

River Description

EVENTS: The annual Green River Cleanup takes place in spring every year and is coordinated by Washington Recreational River Runners and Friends of the Green River.

SEASON: October to May after heavy winter rains. The best flows often come in fall or spring.

LOGISTICS: If it's your first time, a map is helpful to make sense of the roads here. In Summit, at the junction of Maple Valley - Black Diamond Road (Highway 169) and Kent-Kangley Road (Highway 516), head east towards Georgetown on Kent-Kangley Road. In approximately 3 miles, turn off to the south on Lake Retreat-Kanaskat Road. In another 3 miles turn on to Cumberland-Kanaskat Road to the right up over the railroad tracks, and then cross the bridge over the Green River. Follow the road as it turns to the west (headed downstream) a short distance to the turn-off into Kanaskat-Palmer State Park. Once you've entered the park head toward the right and a parking area with a short path that leads to the river. A large sign board warning of dangerous rapids downstream (the class IV gorge run) marks the takeout on the river. Those who want to run a couple more good class III rapids can use an alternate take-out in the park (head left instead of right as you approach the river). To reach the put-in, head back out the park and drive upstream along river left. Just before you reach the bridge you crossed on your way in, you will see a turn-off for Headwords Road which parrallels the river. Follow this road upstream approximately 2 miles to a put-in. The preferred access is just upstream of the security gate but through an agreement that was negotiated by Friends of the Green, American Whitewater, and local boating clubs with Tacoma Utilities, boaters can obtain a pass from the security guard to access the put-in (if you need to reach the security office by phone they can be reached at 360-886-1601).


This is a good run for beginners led by a more experienced paddler. As with other dam release runs in the region, extensive brush along the banks becomes an annoyance during rescue situations. Most of the rapids are class II with the exception of Railroad Bridge, a class III ledge marked by a distinct horizon line after you float beneath the railroad bridge. The preferred line is down the tongue on river left but the details of the line change with flow. Be sure to scout from river left if you are unsure of the line, but stay below the high water mark and off of private property. Over the course of the run there are several good eddy lines to practice boat handling skills and some nice surf waves downstream of the highway bridge.

Paddlers in the region should note that the increasing demands of urban growth and endangered salmon have been the focus of management priorities on the river, but after a day or two of intense winter rains you are nearly always guaranteed to find this run with water.

An important consideration on this run is finding out when the water will be flowing. Although discharge from the dam often remains constant through the weekend, the engineers do sometimes adjust flows over the weekend at high flows of most interest to boaters.

Rapid Descriptions

Railroad Bridge Drop

Class - III Mile - -57.9

Railroad Drop is a bedrock ledge that extends across approximately 2/3 of the width of the river on river right. The preferred line is down the main tongue on river left where there is a break in the ledge. At lower flows (around 1000 cfs) you will encounter a shallow bedrock shelf towards the bottom of the main tongue. To avoid it, you want to execute a strong left to right move as you enter the tongue. As flows increase however (above 2000 cfs) this line to the right takes you dangerously close to the terminal hydraulic that forms at the base of the bedrock ledge that extends from the center of the river to nearly the right bank. If someone gets caught in this hole that approximates a feature characteristic of a low-head dam, it is extremely difficult to execute a rescue because it is beyond throw rope range for most rescuers. At these higher flows it is safer to follow the main river left tongue down the middle being sure to cheat to the left rather than straying over to the right. Another factor to be aware of if boat scouting is many experienced paddlers grab the eddy behind the large boulder about 200' upstream of the ledge. Be aware that if you grab this eddy you are right above the terminal hole at higher flows. It's a good place to get set up but you need to make a hard move across the eddy line when you peel out to hit the preferred line down the left tongue. A more conservative line at higher flows is to start from the river left shore and bypass the option to grab the eddy behind the big boulder. The rapid can be easily scouted, especially at lower flows, when you can get out on the bedrock on river left and scout or portage. Stay below the high water mark and off the private property that borders this rapid.


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Andrew Halverson
3 years ago

Floated 5 days ago from Headworks to lower take out in Kanaskat-Palmer SP at around 1100cfs. One medium size log wedged in the Railroad Bridge Drop, easily avoidable but definitely make sure you know where it is, far right side of main river tongue(left) basically in the middle. Rest of the river is clear and very fun!

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Courtney Bouldin
5 years ago

Ran the headworks from the put-in below the security gate today and wood was not an issue - the river wide tree before the diversion pipe is no longer in play. Part of our crew used the put-in above the security gate and reported safe lines up there too. Also at ~900 cfs, we didn't find any wood hazards at the weir or in the boulder garden - it was a great day with no mandatory portages or sneaking past sketchy logs!

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John Rouches
7 years ago

We ran from the headworks to flaming geyser and the river is clean, no sweepers or log jams.

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Thomas O'Keefe
9 years ago

The upper put-in at Headworks has been reopened for boater use.

Gage Descriptions

USGS gauge, Army Corps of Engineers gauge (with reservoir information including inflow), the Corps is no longer providing their weekend outlook report for project operation. The Crops does however provide information on project operations that is integrated into NOAA's Green River forecast. You can also call the dam directly at 206-764-6975 or project office at 206-764-6702 if you want to find out what they'll be doing with flows over the next couple hours. Most consider flows of 1200-2000 cfs to be ideal and this is the recommended range for your first run. 1450 cfs is a great level for Paradise Ledge. At flows of 2000-4000 cfs this is a fun expert bigwater run. At flows up above 5000 cfs, things get very big and pushy. It has been run up above 10,000 cfs, but you'd better know the lines.

The median minimum acceptable flow for canoes, kayaks and IKs was 600, 700 and 750 cfs respectively. These flows provide a marginal recreational opportunity for the Headworks reach for respective watercraft. The median flow for the standard trip for canoes, kayaks and IKs was 1000, 1200 and 1500 cfs respectively. Flows of 1500 cfs fall within the optimum range for all three watercraft. Flows in this range provide a high quality recreation experience. The median flow for a high challenge trip for canoes, kayaks and IKs was 2500 cfs for all three watercraft types. The median for the highest safe flow for canoes, kayaks and IKs was 2900, 3000 and 2800 cfs respectively.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2013-04-07 High Fatality Cold Water Read More




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Green River Headworks Access Temporarily Unavailable (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

Access to the Green River Headworks put-in managed by Tacoma is unavailable due to a large volume of wood that was incorrectly placed and now blocks the boater access. Tacoma is working to address the situation with the Army Corps of Engineers and reopen the access shortly. In the meantime access is available at the headwall rapid downstream of the Tacoma watershed gate.

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Corps completes Phase I mitigation projects on the Green River (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

The Army Corps of Engineers recently completed phase I construction of engineered log jams and gravel addition projects for salmon enhancement on the Green River Headworks section. Members of the paddling community have been working to ensure that the interests of those who enjoy recreational opportunities on the river are represented.

Thomas O'Keefe




Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1212554 05/31/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1213800 10/15/19 James updated stats
1205845 01/29/16 Thomas O'Keefe
1208588 12/14/17 Thomas O'Keefe coordinate edits on map
1192903 05/04/09 Thomas O'Keefe n/a
1202926 12/12/13 Thomas O'Keefe description edits
1205717 12/28/15 Thomas O'Keefe minor edit
1205844 01/29/16 Thomas O'Keefe gage information updated
1202927 12/12/13 Thomas O'Keefe copy edit