Green - 1 - Headworks to Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

Green, Washington, US


1 - Headworks to Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

Usual Difficulty II+(III) (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 26 fpm

Railroad Bridge Drop

Railroad Bridge Drop
Photo of Toria Matteson by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 04/25/08 @ 890 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12106700 1000 - 3000 cfs II+(III) 00h57m 181 cfs (too low)

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-12-14 02:02:07


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-57.9Railroad Bridge DropIIIPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Railroad Bridge Drop (Class III, Mile -57.9)

Railroad Bridge Drop

Railroad Bridge Drop
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 04/25/08 @ 890 cfs

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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 30 2017 (258 days ago)
whs356 (159583)
Put in inside the gate. There is a log across the channel on the right side of the first island.
Towards the bottom of the island. At 1140cfs there was 3-4" of water flowing over the entire log.
Easy to see and run right over, but at lower levels or if swimming it will be a problem.
February 14 2017 (517 days ago)
circuitmonkey (151431)
Log was still at railroad drop on 2/11/17. Less obvious at 1,600... was right at the water line.
Our group opted to take the far right channel
January 23 2017 (539 days ago)
andrewhalverson (158569)
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!
October 1 2016 (652 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
Tacoma Water will will be closing the boat launch at the Headworks from October 3rd to as late as
the 14th while the Corps of Engineers transports large woody debris to the site from the upper
watershed. This is a requirement for both the Corps and Tacoma Water to protect listed chinook and
steelhead. The wood floated into Howard Hanson Reservoir during peak flow events last winter.
Tacoma Water is required to transport it around the dams and reintroduce it into the lower river
below the Headworks.
December 15 2014 (1308 days ago)
cnebouldin (156369)
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!
November 24 2014 (1330 days ago)
shanna (150424)
~1500cfs.. First rapid inside gate, still quite a bit of wood (make sure newbies have boat
control), second rapid there is still the huge wood pile, we went by on the left, but it's
imperative to stay away from wood pile, not a lot of room to get by and you wouldn't want a
swimmer. Once past the huge log jam, the third rapid has wood 3/4 of the way across starting from
river right shore, you can get by on the left. Straight section a couple turns before diversion
pipe, tree has fallen all the way across river. At this level we were able to get over it on river
left, but at lower flows could be very problematic. Also, once you see it, you could get stopped on
river left, but they aren't eddies - it's more like moving slow current on the river bank. Another
tree down coming off river left, as you start into the rapid that continues down to the diversion
pipe. You can easily get around it on river right. Weir has about a 5' long log on the rock at
bottom, no issues at this water level.
November 9 2013 (1710 days ago)
dwrippe (156075)
Ran the Headworks at about 1500 today. There is a log in the Weir (Railroad Bridge Drop) that
*might* come into play. It is hung up on the exposed rock just ahead of the paddler in the featured
photo above, with most of it hanging out into the current alongside the "standard" line usually
taken. We portaged the rapid today to be safe, but I paddled up behind it to get a better look. The
end of the log appears to be about 3 feet (river) right of the line we normally take folks down,
and could come into play if someone found themselves too far right. Also, there are a bunch of "no
trespassing" signs where we get out to scout that drop, and we got hollered at by some crotchety
lady up the hill on her porch. There was also what appeared to be some new wood in the final
boulder garden stretch (at least, I don't remember it being there). There is a massive log on river
right spanning probably 40-50 feet into the channel, with a lot of other wood hung up on it. Best
to avoid the right side of the river as you make your way past the halfway point of the boulder
November 28 2012 (2056 days ago)
jdrouches (151343)
We ran from the headworks to flaming geyser and the river is clean, no sweepers or log jams.
April 1 2011 (2663 days ago)
x (1)
There is still a large log in the railroad bridge drop on river left. Good idea to scout the drop
before running. The log is gone as witnessed on 2/21/11 at 935 cfs
March 15 2011 (2679 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
The upper put-in at Headworks has been reopened for boater use.
February 23 2011 (2699 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
The upper Headworks put-in is temporarily unavailable due to a large volume of wood that was
incorrectly placed and blocks the access. Tacoma is working to address the situation this week.

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May 2017

Green River Cleanup
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Green River Cleanup Black Diamond, WA,WA runs 05/05/12 - 05/06/17
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  • Green River (WA)
    AW works with partners to protect flows and the scenic landscape of the Green River Gorge.