LOGISTICS: The take-out is on the river left side of the only bridge that crosses the Middle Fork of the Nooksack on Mosquito Lake Rd. To Reach the half way put in at the dam (more commonly used). Head North on Mosquito Lake Road, and take your first right on the unmarked Middle Fork of the Nooksack Road (FR 38). Drive upstream to mile 2.6 and a locked gate on the right. Park here and hike down to the diversion dam.
For the upper put-in, keep driving past the dam turn-off a couple miles and over the bridge at Clearwater Creek to a Y in the Road. Go right at the Y, to a bridge with a locked gate over the Middle Fork. Put in here.
DESCRIPTION: From the upper put-in, the Upper Middle Fork provides a brief warm up till Clearwater Creek comes in on the right. From Clearwater Creek to the diversion dam, the Upper Middle is almost one continuous rapid. Two or three times, the rapids culminate in class V moves, but everything in between is constant class IV to IV+. When the water is high, this section gets considerably harder. If you don't know when the dam is coming, be extra cautious. The dam is run depending on whether or not the city is diverting and depending on flows, but there are parts of the dam you don't want to get sucked over regardless of conditions. If the dam is not to your liking, portage on the left.
Once you've left the eddy below the dam, you'll be committed to the gorge. The Gorge is actually a notch easier than the upper middle, but the two hundred foot vertical walls are going to make it a little more intimidating. The first rapid below the bridge is Ice Box Paradise. This is the obvious rapid seen from the bridge with the hole on the right next to an undercut grotto. It doesn't look like much from the bridge, but don't worry, it'll be bigger from the seat of your boat. At higher water a sneak route cleans up on the left. The next drop is Leap of Faith. This is just around the corner from what can be seen from the bridge. At Leap of Faith the gorge walls come down to about ten feet apart as the whole river drops down a chute into the netherworld. Luckily the rapid is easily run center right, but for first timers this can be a scary experience. A few more fun ledges in the heart of the gorge lead to Hawaii Five-0. Scout and run Hawaii Five-O on the right. It's my favorite on the trip! The next major rapid is S-Turn. This is marked by a landslide coming in from the right. I'm not going to describe it since the rapid changes so much, but scout on the right. The latest rendition of S-Turn has been the hardest yet. One more ledge after S-Turn is the last rapid in the Gorge, Super Boof. Super Boof used to be a fun straight forward boof down the center slot, but an old growth fir that fell in from the right cliff gives the rapid some serious consequence. Luckily a fixed line coming in from the cliff on the right gives the option of a scout and or portage.
After Super Boof, the gorge opens up and the rapids get easier, except for Cheese Grater. A surprise rapid that comes when the river makes a turn to the left. At low water I usually walk this one on the left, because a missed line on the right and you're going to lose some skin.
For another nearby run check out Clearwater Creek.
Since the floods this last thaknsgiving the middle fork has changed again.
All of the rapids have cleaned up with the exception of Hawaii five O. Scouting would be a good idea here.
S-bends no longer has the annoying pourover rock and has a nice snake like tongue through it. The log at super boof has shifted and is further downstream making it less of a consequence. Unfourtunately the 8 foot by 8 foot root ball is only hanging on by a small tree on the cliff wall. I am sure one group of paddelers will find it in the center stream someday.
6 months ago
by Lummi Restoration
Complete Recreation Plan Document with Appendices.
Summary of Recreation Plan.
Letter of support for the Middle Fork Nooksack Fish Passage Project that would remove the dam on the river.
Letter inquiry regarding opportunity for input on modifications to the Middle Fork Nooksack Diversion.
Inquiry regarding status of modifications to the Middle Fork Diversion Dam.
The upper half is best at the higher range of flows and even above 600 cfs. The lower canyon section is typically run at the lower end of the range of flows. The run is done at higher and lower flows all the time, but these flows are best for a first time down.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Engineered log jam locations downstream of Mosquito Lake Road bridge
Middle Fork Nooksack @4500 cfs
Rapid just below Island drop.
1st rapid below Clearwater creek
1st Rapid below Clearwater creek
Log after Super Boof
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 Washington Department of Natural Resources is embarking on a new planning project that will guide recreation on DNR-managed lands in the Nooksack River and Whatcom Lake watersheds for the next 10-15 years. The effort will kick off with two public open houses that will be scheduled for January.
Following a two and a half year process, the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan, has been finalized. This new, comprehensive plan will help guide the management of recreation and natural resources along the upper Nooksack River system in Washington state. The plan recognizes and supports the economic and health benefits of recreation, along with protection and restoration of the natural and cultural values of the upper river basin.
Do you enjoy boating on the Nooksack River? If you do, please tell us about your experience. American Whitewater is working with several partners through the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program to develop an updated recreation plan for the upper Nooksack River basin. Your input will help us guide development of this plan.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!